Goodbyes

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We said goodbye to Akie today, with tears in my eyes. Juliana called me a sap. I just loved having her with me and sharing this experience together and I miss her already.

It was such a joy to have her stay with our family. We all loved sharing stories and laughter and bonding together. She was absolutely delightful and we all enjoyed her company in different ways.

Our family bonded through this shared experience too. I admired how Juliana was a little mother to Akie, making sure she was happy and entertained and understood. She was patient and kind and loving and unselfish and I loved watching her be the best hostess, even giving up her room for her.

Charlie made welcome signs and presented her with a handmade goodbye card that he translated into Japanese and English, all on his own. He played kendamas and war with her and loved having her with us.

Christian always stopped by her room when he came home, greeting her and asking about her day. He joined us when he could and was warm and welcoming when he was busy.

Jeff had fun translating words into English, Dutch, German and Japanese, seeing the patterns and making connections. He was there to greet her when she arrived, took her to see San Francisco, the Redwoods and Santa Cruz, and was there to say goodbye at the end too.

We all had a special connection with her and for this I am grateful. I loved how she enjoyed small bowls of soup, rice with sprinkled toppings, and long bath rituals. She was polite, kind, friendly, curious, warm and genuinely happy. When she left, I asked if I could hug her and she reached out to give me a hug with a smile. I loved her!

Our family shared an awesome experience and shared our life with a stranger who became like a daughter and sister.

I highly recommend hosting a foreign exchange student. There are so many benefits to both the hosts and the student and it makes the world a little smaller, after all.

Life is good.

Choices

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I love my family so much. I also love my friends, as if they were my family especially since my extended family does not live close to me and this makes me very sad. I love to share this life journey together and they are so far away, which makes it hard to have a cup of coffee together or show up for dinner unexpectedly or hike or do whatever. I love to go to my nieces’ soccer games and plays and school functions and want to be there for the major events too. Instead I have to text them, call or Facetime, or send pictures and just miss out. This is how it is. I get it. And since they can’t be with me as much as I would like, I have chosen to adopt friends, as my local, bonus family. This makes me really happy and makes life good right where I am.  Do you do this or are you lucky enough to have family close by? This would be a bonus dream come true. Does anyone in my family want to move close to me??  Pretty please?

While I wait to see my family, I am enjoying and loving my friends and especially my adopted daughter, Akie. We have 2 more nights left with her before she goes back home. The one thing she asked to see in California was the Cheesecake Factory, while she was here. Tonight was her lucky night. She enjoyed the experience very much, and we enjoyed sharing this with her. She picked the pasta carbonara with shrimp for dinner, and the 30th anniversary chocolate cheesecake for dessert. She was amazed by the portion sizes, compared to Japan.  Some of her Japanese friends were also there tonight and it was nice for them to be able to speak in their native language and share stories.  I am so happy that she is having a good time and enjoying all that is here for her to experience.

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She fits in so well with our family. This morning when I was alone in the car with her before dropping her off at school, she said to me that she wished she could stay in California. I smiled (and cried) and said, “Me too.”  Me too.

Namaste.