And She’s Off . . .

We took Rebeka to the airport in the wee hours of the morning. She is traveling back to Rwanda with a family that is moving there this same morning, with their three young children, their eleven checked bags, and a container that is somewhere in the middle of the ocean right now, on its way to their new home. We added two very  large, very overstuffed suitcases to the total. There were tears.

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It was hard to say goodbye, even though we know we’ll see her again. Even though we know her family is eagerly awaiting her return, and she’ll be walking to them on the bottoms of her pretty little feet.

It was hard because there is now a great big Rebeka-sized hole in our family. Only five of us sat around the table at Kerbey Lane later this morning, nibbling comfort food and laughing over Rebeka stories. We had a good last few days. We swam in the lake, and she learned how to swim with just floaties around her arms. Friends came and gave last hugs and jibbets for her croc shoes and sweet cards and other small gifts.

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We went to the coast and sat on the edge of a pier, fishing, with the brilliant blue evening sky all around.

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She had a last long walk down Manana, and tons of neighbors came to cheer her on and celebrate her victory when she crossed our toilet paper finish line.  We took a last boat ride, and a last tube ride.

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Last night we had cake.

We sang "We love you Rebeka" to the tune of Happy Birthday.
We sang “We love you Rebeka” to the tune of Happy Birthday.

We gave her some charms for her new charm bracelet. I read her picture books one last time. We set up sleeping bags in the living room and had a big sleepover, and we giggled and Rebeka “doopity-doopity’d” the lights dark (with some help from a remote).

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Waking up this morning at 4:15, the world dark outside, the last day had finally come. We sat on the suitcases so we could zip them shut, then opened them again to squeeze in “one last thing.” We played one last game of UNO because miraculously, we were ready to leave early.

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We drove to the airport, and I wondered what was going through Rebeka’s head as she stared out the window. We took a few last pictures, wanting to hold on to our family of six just a little longer.

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Then there were tears. Whispers in her ear, promises that we love her, and her family is waiting for her, and we’ll come visit soon. Later, we went to Kerbey Lane and toasted our time with Rebeka with coffee cups and glasses of juice. The house is quiet now. Napping quiet, broken only by the ding of my phone as texts come in. “Praying for you,” “Love you,” “Give her a kiss from us.”

She never was a big kisser . . .
She never was a big kisser . . .
But that didn't stop us from trying!
But that didn’t stop us from trying!

The friendships we’ve made, and the support we’ve received, these past eleven months has changed us just as surely as our time with Rebeka. It’s all part of the same beautiful story. We are so glad you’ve come along for the ride. Here’s a picture of “our girl,” taken after our last boat ride last night. We will never forget this smile. Blessings to you all.

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11 thoughts on “And She’s Off . . .

  1. It’s hard not to cry. You created another beautiful entry to Rebekka’s story, Meredith. Hopefully you can celebrate knowing that you’ve been part of something good, and look forward to staying in touch and being a part of her future.

  2. Loved this post, even though it made me get teary-eyed. The pictures show so much happiness and love! The one of all “four” of your children is my favorite! Please let us know when she arrives home safely.

  3. I have read an loved every bit of Rebeka’s story. I was so overjoyed at the Disney and beach posts! And this is a great one…love the pictures and her brilliant smile. I can’t wait to read the next one when you all go visit. She’s touched so many lives during her stay here and your words really brought the whole thing to life. Thanks so much for sharing it all!!

  4. What a beautiful, loving and giving family you are … we will pray for a joyful reunion with her family. She will never forget the wonderful experience with the Davis family.

  5. Of course brought tears to my eyes! What gift for all of you to have Rebeka as part of your family. I know all of your lives are changed forever because of her! What a blessing! I look forward to hearing how things go for her back home and when you all reunite! Thanks for letting us enter into your journey!!

  6. Crying here at the Barn. Just had the wherewithal to say goodbye to these posts after seeing you today and knowing you are doing a-ok. What a difference you have made for one child. For your family. For your readers. And for the world. BIG thanks to Rebeka for having the courage and strength to find a family in yours as she healed and MUCH love as she walks her way around Rwanda.

  7. THANKS FOR ALL THAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY HAVE DONE TO MAKE REBEKA’S LIFE BETTER. I HAVE TOLD SO MANY AT THE CONTINENTAL ABOUT YOU AND THEY ARE ASKING IF SHE GOT HOME OKAY AND WILL SHE BE IN THE BOARDING HOUSE AND SCHOOL? THEY ARE SO INTERESTED IN FOLLOWING HER JOURNEY. LOVE, GG

  8. Oh Mere, Reading this post after my last big manuscript push has been a blessing. If I had read it a minute before, I couldn’t have stopped to cry and let these sweet feelings of love and loss and hope well up in me. I love you for being brave enough to take this journey and share it with us.

  9. Oh Meredith,
    I am sitting here at my desk at work crying my eyes out! You guys made such an amazing impact on Rebeka’s life and her on yours. It has been weird being back and not seeing you guys in clinic or her name on the schedule. keep the pictures coming as you get them. Such an amazing story of love!!!

    1. We miss you, too Gina, and all the staff at Dell. We’re looking forward to posting some pictures after our trip to Rwanda in November-it will be amazing to see her again and meet her family!

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