Abby has probably spent more time in Colombian homes than any of us. Almost daily, she finds someone to play with in our conjunto. For this reason, she has had the most immersion of all of us. She has taken on Colombian quirks, tastes, habits, and mannerisms in addition to language.
Bogota is cool and often rainy. However, many wealthier families have resort homes 2 hours outside of the city, at a much lower altitude, where one can be reminded that we do live very near the equator.
Two groups of families, one from our conjunto and one from school invited us to spend two different weekends with them at these homes to celebrate Abby and to say goodbye. I was touched by the love they feel for her, and how difficult it was to say goodbye. Abby has really integrated herself to be a part of these families. All of them say that she is part of their family, and she can come back whenever she wants. They all know her favorite snack foods and games and they love her initiative and creativity. Listening to stories of their times together, I know that she has taught them a little bit about our culture as well.
We were treated to weekends with amazing Colombian food, no responsibilities, pleasant conversation, nice music/dancing, sunshine, games, and laughter. For the first time, I benefited from the relationships that Abby has nurtured (instead of the opposite).
These are the friends she sought out and developed without my influence.
During all the laughter and fun there was also a dark understanding that this was going to be the last time. I had to pull Abby out of the embrace of her friends in the end, with strong tears and physical objections. She cried and cried and cried and I felt like I was pulling her away from part of who she is.
But most of the time I would hug her, ask her how she was doing, and check to see if that moment was "more happy, or more sad." And most of the time she was "more happy."
Again, so grateful.
I hope that she can stay connected to some of these friends. And if not, I hope she always remembers their love and hospitality. I know they are also changed for knowing her.