This wasn't the way we envisioned goodbye.
If plans had stayed in place, you would have experienced a wonderful summer with your grandparents in their home. You would have learned what it was like to work your first real job. You would have opened a bank account, gotten a driver's license, and celebrated a graduation open house with your cousin in PA.
If plans had stayed in place, we would have sent you off with goodbyes well said. We hoped to have a fancy dinner, pretty dresses, friends and family who've loved you all your years in Chile to join us. Your MK friend Andrea would have come to spend a week, or at least a few days, in Iquique as planned. Instead, you will slip away with only a face-to-face farewell with one dear Chilean friend and others by way of phone or video.
If plans had stayed in place, we would have had one more family trip together. We would have flown south and you would have gotten a chance to see your cousins' new home and enjoy the beautiful scenery and river and fulfill the dream of all three families (Fishers, Rubins, Garcias) vacationing together in Puerto Varas. You would have had one more cousins' treasure hunt at the very end.
If plans had stayed in place, you and Isabel and I would have kept our reservations and had one last girls' getaway at a hotel. We would have gone out to eat and watched movies and even completed a short class together. We would have taken mother/daughter and sister pictures together.
If plans had stayed in place, we would have had one last professional family photo shoot with Hernan. I had hoped it would be on Cerro Dragon as a memory of this unique landmark in the city where you were raised. I regret not doing it sooner because I wanted the photo to be as recent as possible and maybe even to lose some weight first (how ironic is that post-quarantine and all your yummy desserts!)
If plans had stayed in place, both Daddy and I would be flying together to the States to take you to school. We would say goodbye to you together, just as we first said a breathless hello together in Mr. Casey's small office at Catholic Social Services in Scranton nineteen years ago.
If plans had stayed in place, we would be there for parents' orientation weekend with you rather than having to take you a week early. We'd meet the other parents of your classmates and get a formal introduction to what this year has in store for you. Daddy would do the six hours of driving each way so that I could (probably) just cry my way home.
If plans had stayed in place, you would already be gone.
But because plans did not stay in place, we were given three more months with you. Because plans did not stay in place, you were not far from us in another country when the COVID-19 crisis erupted. Because plans did not stay in place, you had time to finish school well and more time to focus on the next step. Because plans did not stay in place, you made and re-made your lists to perfection. (And you made and re-made strawberry shortcakes, iced sugar cookies, zucchini cakes and even spaghetti - with Dad's secret ingredient! - for the enjoyment of your family.)
Because plans did not stay in place, you asked for and God provided a weekly Christian counseling appointment that has given you voice and tools to face some of your struggles. Because plans did not stay in place, as a family we were able to study about Heaven and sing together in worship each Sunday. We "met" Pastor Dave and were encouraged through his daily Bible studies on YouTube for many weeks. Because plans did not stay in place, we reconnected with extended family more regularly and sweetly as we met weekly for family devotions.
Because plans did not stay in place, Silas spent more time snuggled up with you listening to music on your bunk bed and creating Sunday School crafts with your help. Because plans did not stay in place, your brothers enjoyed playing you in chaotic competitions of Dutch Blitz. Because plans did not stay in place, our girls' getaway for a weekend was exchanged for a month-long trip together as we all go to the States. Because plans did not stay in place, Daddy asked for your favorite recipes and is spoiling you with your favorite meals before we say goodbye.
I am thankful to trust in a sovereign God who is bigger than any of our plans. (Proverbs 19:21) He is a loving God who puts our tears in His bottle. (Psalm 56:8) He is a hope-giving God with good purposes for our lives. (Jeremiah 29:11) He is the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) He is the God who formed us and knows us and is with us always and everywhere. (Psalm 139) He is the God who will "watch between you and me, when we are out of one another's sight." (Genesis 31:49)
This isn't the way we envisioned goodbye, but it's the way He did. And for that - and for you - I am very thankful.