We picked up our girl from the airport at 7:40 this morning. She and her South Africa crew all looked fresh and awake and cheerful, definitely not as if they had just spent an entire day traveling. I am always so taken aback by how beautiful I find my children. I see it anew whenever I have been away from them. So much life force in them. God, they make me happy. When all is going well with them, it is the deepest peace.
So we had a birthday cake set up and flowers and wrapped presents for our newly-minted 17-year-old, including a gift from her cousins Alexis and Danielle that arrived in the mail on her birthday. Our girl deposited her bags in the hallway and went straight to the gifts!
We didn't light the candles and sing happy birthday right away because it was still only 9 a.m. But we did eat for breakfast the seafood ceviche my husband made last night as a welcome home treat for his daughter. After the gift opening and the eating, my girl immediately settled herself on the couch, eager to end her two weeks of being electronically unplugged. She is now scrolling through literally hundreds of happy birthday messages on Facebook, reading long missives sent to her inbox, clicking links, laughing to herself, reading some of the messages out loud for our enjoyment. She will be there for a long while, I suspect, reconnecting. She doesn't even care that her mother is buzzing around, fondly snapping pictures. Those fingers move crazy fast.
At around 11 a.m., the birthday girl looked up and said, "Is it time to eat cake yet?" She wanted to light the candles, and why not, since she is the master of all things cake related in our house. Then she conducted us as we sang Happy Birthday, closed her eyes and sucked in a breath as she made a wish, and blew out all the candles, cheering for herself when she was done. My wish, unspoken, was that she would get her wish, because it seemed from the way she held herself when she was making it to be deep and heartfelt.
Later she went out and had a late lunch and hung out with friends, then came home and ate more cake with another friend who came by to hear all the stories. This friend is the daughter of a South African mother, and she spends summers there, so she knew whereof my daughter spoke. Here they are, indulging my camera.
They stayed up chatting and laughing and catching up on their two long weeks apart until well past the hour when my jet lagged daughter should have been awake. And then at a certain point in the evening, she just crashed. One minute she was talking to us, and the next, she was stretched out and dreaming. Ah yes. I missed this. Welcome home, my sweet girl.