We hadn’t planned on having a foreign exchange student. Sometimes just getting through life as we know it seems tough schedule-wise, let alone adding an unknown variable. The decision wasn’t easy and not one we’d have thought up on our own.
It started when a local family approached us and told us that David would have to change schools if he didn’t find a family to live with. Our son had already observed him as a “nice kid” and reported back. “Pleeeassse, can we keep him??”
The obvious end to that story is we agreed to have him come live with us. We knew there’d be change. It’s a long commitment. We knew there’d be expenses, more towels to wash, more teenagers in the house.
Then there was the part we didn’t know. What if he didn’t fit in? We’d seen families that’d happened to once we started researching the subject. It wasn’t pretty. What if he and Jordan clashed? What if he was unhappy?
None of those things happened. He slipped in like he’d lived here forever.
What we didn’t factor in was how much joy it would bring to have David with us for the past 10 months. We didn’t consider how attached we’d become to him. We’d didn’t anticipate I’d have to take a trip to Rite Aid on the morning he drove out of the driveway with his family to buy extra Kleenex to dry our tears. That part was a surprise.
This was true for all of us, but especially our son who would miss his German brother terribly. Watching him process this hurts my stomach. When you have kids, you feel their pain so much more intensely than you feel your own. There is no way around that pain that feels healthy to me. You just have to feel it and get the three pack of Kleenex if need be.
Still, there is a choice on the other side of Loss-city and this is the one I choose. Once the tears have been dried, I choose to make my take-aways the magic moments filled with belly laughter at the dinner table; Davidisms–like his love for the fuzzy toilet seat covers and peanut butter pancakes; music and singing…Do you want to build a snowman? It doesn’t have to be a snowman.…
Thank you, German son, for sharing part of you with us. This is only the unique beginning of a special relationship. We love you and you will forever be in our hearts as family. We can’t wait to see you on Skype and next year in Germany.
Not goodbye. We will–for sure–see you later.