Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Surprise in the Notebook

For years, my husband Bob and I have dreamed of taking a trip to London.

Yes, London!

Where the Fab Four found their fame.
Where 2,000 year old buildings co-exist with modern skyscrapers.
Where royal weddings in all their regalia are watched world-wide.
Where you'll find culture, history, entertainment, and shopping galore!

Yes, London!

But would we ever find the right time to go?

As much as I wanted to experience our first overseas vacation, something stood in the overprotective "mommy" fears.  I did not want to leave my daughter Melissa for such a long time, knowing I'd be so far away if anything should happen.  Logically, I knew Melissa would be safe under the loving roof of her big sister Jessica's home.  In fact, she'd be treated like a queen. But still, those overprotective "mommy" fears kept my feet firmly grounded on United States soil.

That is, until Melissa joined the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO).

As part of this international organization for teens that fosters community service, leadership skills, friendship, and Jewish heritage, Melissa had the opportunity to spend two weeks this summer at a leadership camp on a college campus in West Virginia.

Hmmmm, if Melissa was tucked away at a leadership camp, perhaps, just perhaps, I could loosen the reins on my overprotective "mommy" fears and take a dream vacation with my hubby to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  I knew she'd be safe, and that at least a dozen family members and friends would gladly be "on call"  to handle an unlikely emergency while we were away.

What's more, my "baby" would be 17. I had to allow myself to let go, if for only two week's time.

As Bob and I sat in the airport, I pulled out my journal, disguised as a standard yellow notebook. By the end of my travels, I hoped to fill these pages with every nuance of our journey, starting with the jumbled emotions that played tug of war with my heart as we waited to board the plane that would whisk us across the pond.

Nervous. Scared. Excited. Worried.

I hadn't even left the country, and already I missed my daughter.

Pen in hand, I opened my journal, only to discover that somebody had already filled up the first two pages. Thinking I had taken one of Melissa's school notebooks by mistake, I started reading.

I had not taken the wrong notebook. My "baby" had written her parents a letter of goodbye, full of hope, and joy, and wisdom, and love.  With her permission, I share her heart-felt words with you now.

Dear Mom and Dad,
     By the time you read this, you will probably be on a plane to England and I will be at camp meeting new people. But knowing my mother, you will probably read this before you even leave the house. Anyway, I'm excited for you guys to finally experience a different country and bask in all of its historic (boring) glory.
     No, but seriously I'm not gonna lie - I'm a little jealous. I know you have so many fun, amazing things planned and so many adventures to go on. Just remember, don't be afraid to try new things! Mom, don't avoid eating certain foods just because you think it will taste yucky. You won't know unless you try.
     And Dad, don't be afraid to step out of the tour group for a second if you see something that isn't being explained. The most beautiful and interesting things in the world could be the thing that the tour guide passes.
     And to both of you - live in the moment. Take in every single thing you see, notice how you are feeling at that moment, and think of it as a blessing.  Not many people get the chance to do what you're doing, so appreciate every minute you have in this magical place and don't waste it constantly looking at your itinerary or watch. Go with the flow and don't be upset if things aren't going as planned. Some of the best moments are made when you don't plan them.
     As for me, I'm going to try to take my own advice at camp. Even though I've been reading blogs and watching videos about what you do there, I'm still nervous for the whole experience. But I know it will be a great one that will allow me to grow as a leader and a person.  It will be the longest I've been away from you guys I think but I will text every night before I go to bed and hopefully find a good time to call before it's bedtime for you guys. Stupid time change...
     I'll miss you guys so much. I'm also going to keep a journal (like mother like daughter) so you can both read about my experiences when we get home. And I can't wait to read about your's!
     Just remember, live in the moment and don't spend too much time writing in this.  Do take lots of pictures though. The goofiest ones you can think of.
     I love you both so much. Don't miss me too much! Enjoy your time together because 20 years is definitely worth celebrating.  Dad, try not to annoy mommy too much!
PS - Bring me back a cute British boy!

Melissa's letter was the most wonderful surprise! We may have been worlds away, but her words brought me closer to her charming spirit than she'll ever know.

Reading those words, I knew there would be no need to worry. My beautiful daughter, so full of of wisdom beyond her years, would be just fine.

And so would I.

Bob and me in front of the famous Tower Bridge in London! Our vacation was better than I could have imagined, because I spent it with my best friend and love of my life!  Happy 20 anniversary Bob!!

If you like my stories please tell me in the comments section below.


  1. Lisa....I just read about your trip and your wonderful "Special" daughter. The idea that she wrote in your journal...for you to read later.....was so touching. How proud you and your hubby must be to have a teen with so much passion and caring. Happy 20th Anniversary. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. This would have been something I would have printed off and taken to Rosie's for her to read....she would have loved reading this and would have made a big fuss over it. You need to write a have the 'gift'!!!

    1. Nancy, thank you so much for your kind words. It is so heart warming to know that my Aunt Rosie would have enjoyed my stories!!

  2. Awww, that almost made me cry! What a nice thing she did :)

    1. Thanks Cindy! And I am so glad she gave me permission to share her letter on my blog!

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