Ever since she was nine years old, my daughter has held my hand when we are out and about. She does this to stop me tripping or, worse, running headlong into traffic. Her caution is well-advised for I can fall over my own feet, and don’t tend to follow road rules well.
Star knows I get dizzy and disoriented when I am stressed, and that this causes me to fall over and bang into things even more than usual. I did this on Saturday and she dealt with it firmly. “Sit down over there so you don’t hurt yourself. I’ll do it.” she said, as I tried to wrangle wet wipes and dry shampoo and siracha sauce into a recalcitrant hold-all. “Look where you’re going” she said as she steered me and my tray to the sushi counter at the Chinese buffet, and successfully maneuvered me back to our booth without a nasty spill. “I got this” she said as she wheeled two enormous suitcases into the hotel and commandeered the bellhop. I was very grateful, and tried to say so, in a series of anxious, tearful bleats.
In truth, I hadn’t really expected my daughter to be the person to drop me at the door to my new life. In my head, I thought I’d bundle my bags into an Uber and arrive at the Peace Corps staging hotel, all independent and self-sufficient. She doesn’t get up early. She has stuff to do at weekends. She doesn’t like goodbyes. How wrong could I be? On Friday night she organized a surprise farewell dinner at a favorite restaurant. On Saturday she turned up bright and early to grapple with the packing, and, following a hasty last lunch ( “Something light. Can you eat some sushi?”) she drove me to DC, parked the car, dismissed the valet, and stood with me in the check-in line. Naturally, all the other Peace Corps volunteers assumed she was the one on her way to adventure. This was partly because of her age, but also because I was rocking pathetically and sniveling more than a little–the kind of embarrassing mother who shouldn’t be let out of the house.
In truth I forget that she is grown up, and not only practical and capable, but also mature and empathetic. Since I first mentioned this Peace Corps carry on, she has been a trooper. She hasn’t questioned my desire to do it. She hasn’t tried to persuade me to stay home. This weekend, she bit her lip, squared her shoulders and set about giving me a good send off. I am amazed by her. I am proud of her. I will miss her more than I can say.