The Trip that Altered Their Lifetime

January 10, 2009
By Dani OBrill, Hoffman Estates, IL

“I can’t believe we’re letting her do this. I mean, really, aren’t we being a bit under-protective as parents? If you really think about it, she’s only been going to this church steadily for four months now. We don’t know all that much about this church either. What if it’s some devil worshipping cult? Does she believe that Jesus died on the cross for us? Maybe we should tell her she can’t go anymore…”

“Donna, she’s in high school now. Stefany’s been going to this church all her life. Do you really see her as a devil worshiper with how conservative her family is? Do you know how many kids have gone on church trips to places like Africa where they can get diseases when they were only in junior high? We should be happy that she’s starting us off easy. It’s Canada, there’s not really many threats up there, actually there’s not much of anything up there unless they encounter a moose…”

“What if that does happen? What if they go on a hike and a big herd of moose come out and pummel them to pieces?”

“Donna, life isn’t about “what ifs”. We have to let go of her sometime, and I’d say this is the best time knowing it’s a church trip. We know she’ll be safe, it’s not like she’ll be in the situations where she tempted to drink and party and whatnot. This is a good starter trip for us.”

At this point, Donna relaxed a bit. “I guess you’re right, but I’m going to miss her so much.”

“I know you will, I’m going to miss her too.”

Donna and Phil are the parents of their only daughter, their only child, Dani. Though a bit overprotective at times, they did their best raising her and they thought they had done a pretty dang good job at it too. She’s a straight A student, an all around athlete, and has a bunch of responsible friends that keep each other out of trouble. She’s a bit preppy and obedient. She’s never given them reason not to trust her, but Donna and Phil suffer from a disease called Onlychildsyndrome . They are a bit clingy and don’t want to let go of their little girl. It’s much like the phase that all parents go through with their first born, only much stronger because they know that they don’t have the other children to hang on to. Every experience will only happen once. The first steps, the first day at kindergarten, the first loose tooth: all only happen once in each lifetime and they are the parents of only one life. They must be there for it all, so you shouldn’t be surprised when you hear that Donna has only missed one soccer game in the hundreds that Dani has played or that before this trip, Dani had never been away from home for more than two days. It’s not like they haven’t let her go places, Dani suffers from the disease as well and didn’t participate in sleepovers until she was in sixth grade, at which point she was still sleeping her parent’s bed.

Their little girl was growing up now and wanted to spend time away from home. Naturally they were a bit hurt, that she no longer cried for them at night when the boogie monster came or received that call at two in the morning that Dani wanted to come from Stefany’s because she was homesick, even though the only thing that separated Stefany’s and Dani’s rooms was about 50 yards of grass and a fence.

They tried to see the positives. Maybe they could get some alone time and relax a bit without having to drive her to the numerous clubs and sports she was in. For two weeks their lives wouldn’t revolve around her. They could go out to dinner, stay out late without constantly checking up on her to make sure she was still at her friend’s house. They could be free. But these aspects were drowned out with the worry of her getting lost in the Canadian woods. She had never had much experience camping or doing wilderness stuff, and she definitely had never been canoeing or anything that involved being in a lake of free, open, treacherous water. The questioned everything. Would they wear life vests when canoeing? Would it be possible for them to have a close encounter with wild animals? They didn’t like the answers to most of these questions, but her youth pastor assured them that they would be safe, and that they shouldn’t worry.

The day of her departure was terrible, they tried to put on a happy face for her, even though once or twice they did attempt guilting her into staying home. There was a whirlwind of emotions that day. The two would try to be strong for each other’s sake because they knew once one showed their emotions the doors would open for all the rest to flood out of them, which wouldn’t be the best for anyone. Donna was feeling like she had a mild case of postpartum depression and was slightly offended at the fact that Dani was choosing to leave her and couldn’t even try to hold back her excitement about it. Phil on the other hand, understood it was inevitable, that Dani had gotten to the age where she would prefer to be with kids her age, but still was trying to hold back the terrible thoughts of what life would be like after this, after his little girl wasn’t his little girl anymore. Dani hugged and kissed each of them goodbye one last time and stepped into the sixteen-passenger, purple van. The engine started. Both of their hearts sank when they heard that noise, the noise that would carry their daughter far, far away. Donna took a half of a step towards the van, debating whether she should pull Dani off it right now before it was too late. Phil wrapped his arm around her and led her away to their own car, though the knot in his throat was just as big as hers.

They day Dani was to return; they were there forty-five minutes early and ended up waiting for an hour and a half because the van came a bit late. She jumped out of the van, smiling widely, but her smile wasn’t directed towards them, instead it was directed towards the kids that were on the trip. She only glanced at them, and kept up a conversation with her new friends, and it wasn’t until Phil and Donna came to her that she greeted them. She reluctantly hugged her numerous peers goodbye and her parents could see the disappointment on her face that she had to go home. Phil’s fears had become a reality; she really wasn’t their little girl anymore.

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