I stayed up until two o'clock in the morning; packing and repacking and checking all things twice. Where were my tickets? My I.D.? Were my bags tagged? Was my room cleaned? Was everything stored neatly away in the basement so I could find it again when I came home in ten months?
I had barely fallen asleep before my dad came to wake me up. It was time to leave for the airport. I think I may have slept a solid hour. I came down the stairs. To my surprise, my mom was there. She stood in the dimly lit dining room, still in her jammies, still in her robe. The pink, silky, floral robe I came to know and love those past few years at home. I think it was her household attire between full-time school and her full-time night shift at the hospital. I digress.
She appeared emotional, or tired. I was leaning toward emotional. She gave me a hug. She told me to be safe. She told me I was gonna knock some socks off and that there was a whole world waiting for me. She told me that she loved me. I tried hard not to cry.
It wasn't just that I was leaving home, but my mother told me she loved me. My whole life I never doubted this. But you must understand that my mother, being somewhat neglected in her childhood, wasn't raised with tons of affection. And my father being raised Amish, they don't show public affection either. As a result, we just weren't an overly affectionate family. My parents were not the kind to randomley say "I Love You", though we all knew they did. I never once doubted the love my parents had for me or still have for me. Nonetheless, to hear those words that very day meant so much to me. She handed me an envelope, hugged me, and off I went.
My dad loaded up my luggage into the van and drove me off to the airport. He reviewed my flight itinerary with me. He reminded me how to do a connection. He assured me that the shuttle would be waiting once my plane landed on the other end. He told me to call on the calling card once I got there. We hugged and I boarded the plane.
I made my first connection in Chicago and my second in Los Angeles before arriving in Honolulu. I read the letter from my mother and reread it on each connecting flight; I cried like a baby. I had forgotten about the letter until recently. I can't tell you about the timing of finding it again; but I will say I don't believe in coincidences. Anyway, here it is...
When Heavenly Father sent you to our home, He sent compassion; a born leader; and a helper all wrapped up in a little girl.
So many blessings can and will be yours if you follow the paths of righteousness.
You have been blessed with many talents and skills. Some are evident and others may be forth-coming.
One thing is sure, Heavenly Father has something very special in mind for you.
We love you and are glad you're ours.
I retrieved my bags from baggage claim. The "Ohana Shuttle" found me almost the same time I found it. We waited for two more incoming students before heading to campus.
It was past dinner time by this point. It was dark, nevertheless I could see the water from the ocean slap up close to the side of Kamehameha Highway. I couldn't believe the ocean was there; right there. I couldn't wait until morning, until I could see the beauty that surrounded me.
Once arriving on campus and finding my way to my dorm room, I unpacked and made my bed. The room was dark. It was silent. My roommate would arrive later in the week as she was a returning student and I just a freshman; there early for orientation.
I was not used to the silent, seemingly empty room. I was used to a houseful of people, never having my own privacy. And even though I had my own room my Senior year of high school, I rarely slept with my door closed. I liked seeing the light peer in from the stair well. I liked hearing one of the boys snore. I enjoyed hearing my mom get ready and then leave for work. I enjoyed hearing my dad come home from his trips. I enjoyed hearing someone get up in the middle of the night, almost every night, around three in the morning to go downstairs for their traditional glass of water, followed by a stop to the bathroom.
As I lay in my new bed in my new dorm room in the stiff sheets provided by the school, I remember listening to the trade winds come off the shore. I remember listening to the breeze swell through the palms. And I remember listening to the sounds of silence.
Somehow it was at this moment I felt I was no longer a child. I felt like the rest of my life was about to begin and everything that happened at school would shape who I was and who I was to become. I remember thinking that the next time I would probably hear those sounds; the sounds of home- and not a dorm, it would be with my own family; my own children.
And it was.