Monday was spent packing and saying tough goodbyes. (Dad, who had a business trip, and boyfriend who she wouldn't be allowed to see as soon as she was an official missionary.) All too soon it was time to go to the stake president's office to get set apart as a missionary. Already emotional, by the time President Brown invited us in to join Julianne, we were a bit of a mess. Julianne shared her testimony and her reasons behind wanting to serve a mission. President Brown set her apart. And by the time he finished, we were all very glad that there is always a box of kleenex in the stake president's office. President Brown quoted D&C 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
I'm guessing it was meant to strengthen and comfort Julianne. I know it had that affect on me.
(Julianne was rather pleased with the placement of her picture on the stake offices missionary board...right between Elle and Lauren.)
We had thought about getting up extra early to have a last breakfast at Granny Annie's, but packing didn't get finished up till midnight and we had planned to leave the house around 6:45am to head to the airport. We decided sleep was more important. Rebekah and Julianne had one last sleepover. They said it was because Julianne was now a missionary and Rebekah was her companion so therefore they shouldn't sleep in separate bedrooms. But really, they'd been having sleepovers most nights since Rebekah came home from her mission seven months ago. And seeing as by the time Julianne comes home, Rebekah will likely be married, this last time seemed significant.
The morning came all to soon, and not soon enough. Similarly to how I felt when Rebekah was leaving...I was ready. In a way, I had dreaded this day. And the stress and emotions had taken their toll, physically and emotionally. Julianne's leaving was going to happen no matter what, and I got to the point where I just wanted to be done, to get things going so we could start counting down, you know? I think Julianne felt similarly. Although I don't think she was dreading the day, but more anticipating it.
We made the drive to the airport and then sat in the car for a few minutes to have a family prayer. I felt like maybe it was my responsibility as the mother to say it. But of course that meant that my words came out in a tearful, heart aching, emotional mess.
We walked inside (wiping away tears) and got Julianne's boarding passes printed and her luggage checked. I was kind of amazed at just how incredibly helpful and kind the Delta counter agents were to all the missionaries there. Knowing that these missionaries and their families were running the gamut of emotions...fear of the unknown, feeling overwhelmed, confusion, sadness, excitement, and everything in between...they clearly see this every week. And while it might be easy to feel annoyed at all these clueless families, they instead responded with such empathy and asked us where Julianne was serving, expressed excitement over her call, offered advice with travel. It made me worry just a little bit less.
(And the pink/purple luggage makes a second mission go 'round...)
We went upstairs to the security line. The point of no return. This is where it becomes so much harder to say goodbye than at the Provo MTC. In Provo, you know you have more or less delivered your missionary to their destination, at least for the next few weeks. She is going to go inside and be assigned a companion, and a bedroom. She will be fed and taken good care of. At the airport you have to say goodbye and watch her walk through that security line all on her own. Will she make it to her gate okay? What happens if she loses her luggage? What if there are problems or delays with her flight? Will someone be there at the other end in Mexico to pick her up?
(I tried to smile for the camera...but didn't realize that Brandon continued to take pictures, so there is a progression of me losing the precarious hold I had on my tears.)
We said our goodbyes. We hugged and cried and hugged some more. Julianne was admirably calm. I think she had spent her emotions the day before and was just ready.
Another thing that helped? I got a quick email that evening from Julianne. She said she had arrived safely, that there had been 25 missionaries on her flight to Mexico and that her P-Days would be on Thursdays while in the MTC. The next day I also found a couple pictures of her on the Mexico MTC facebook page. Both of those things did much to settle any worries that I had.
There is a Julianne sized hole in my heart. And though she's physically little, her spirit is larger than life. Which means that hole is pretty darn noticeable. It aches, my heart. It very literally hurts. But I'm so proud of her as well. Knowing what to expect this time around means I understand already how hard the missing her can be and how long the time sometimes seems. But it also means that I am fully aware of all the blessings that come, to both her and us here at home. And it's worth it.