Dear Marie, It’s your last day in the US. Today, I figured I would distract myself for a little while by writing this blog post. It’s Saturday morning and we’re in the living room.

You’re sitting in the chair across from me while Sami is braiding your hair one more time. You didn’t want have to deal with your hair over the 24-hour journey home. I want to be able to talk to you, however, the only words I’m capable of speaking without tears are coming through my fingertips…

Marie's arrival at Toledo Express on August 30, 2012.

Marie’s arrival at Toledo Express on August 30, 2012.

It’s been tough watching you say good-bye to our family and your friends. When your dad arrived last week, it seemed like a week would be a long time, until the final goodbyes began and time start moving quickly. It’s hard to believe that today is the day. Of course, it’s been quite a stressful morning for you… While we’ve enjoyed a year of shopping together, you’ve had to fit 10-months of American purchases into three suitcases – yikes!

 As you’ve been packing, I haven’t been able to bring myself to walk past your room. After 10 months of watching bare walls fill with pictures and mementos of your life in America, my heart hurts at the thought of the looking at a bare room and bare walls. I am so happy that you are returning to your life in Denmark – so happy. But, I will miss seeing you stagger out of your room each morning, sharing beautifully ripe avocados with tomatoes or when you came down the steps calling out, “I got you.”

Marie's first peanut butter sandwich. She wasn't sure at first...now, peanut butter is her favorite!

Marie’s first peanut butter sandwich. She wasn’t sure at first…now, peanut butter is her favorite!

Earlier this week I found the first photo of you coming down the hallway toward us at Toledo Express on August 30, 2012. We had only found out you were coming six days before you arrived. I wish the photo wasn’t blurry, but my hands were shaking so much as you came down the hallway. We weren’t sure how those early moments would go. Our family was so embarrassed that first night when we proudly served you a Danish for dessert – only to find out that Danishes weren’t actually Danish. Our bad.

There were so many “firsts” in the early weeks: first day of school, first American football game and how could we forget your first peanut sandwich. You hated peanut butter at first, but soon, you couldn’t live without it. As we promised, we’ll send over Kroger brand peanut butter when you need it. One of my favorite photos of this year was the picture of you with Kate, Sam and Abbie.

Abbie, Kate, Sami and Marie - Thanksgiving 2012

Abbie, Kate, Sami and Marie

The week before you came to America, Matt and I promised your parents that we would treat you like one of our own kids. When you and Kate met for the first time and we snapped the photo of all four of you girls, it was just like you had always been a part of our family. And you always will be.

As the months went on, we had the chance to experience a lot of ups and downs. You really grew up a lot while you were here in the US. Do you remember the chat we had a few months ago? It was late in the evening and you and I were in the living room talking about the important things to know in life. You had come to the realization as to why  you were in America this year. And I agreed. My hope is that you will keep that in mind as you continue the next exciting phase of your life. You may be across time zones and a large ocean, but there are so many of us who have been invested in your life over the last 10 months. I think that one of the reasons I wrote those post is so that you might know that where you go and what you do in life matters to so many. no matter how much time or many miles are between us.

Well, Sami is done braiding your hair – and I need a kleenex. I know you see me doing a poor job of not crying. But, I see a few tears slipping down your face as well. That’s okay. Most importantly, your hair looks great! You’re going to look spectacular posing in front of the Eiffel Tower during your long layover in Paris. Lucky!

As you bounce up from the chair to finish packing upstairs, you exclaimed, “Well, looks like I am good to go.” And you’re right. It is time to go.

-Originally posted on June 1, 2013