My niece, Natalie, who lives in Alaska has traveled all by herself the last two summers to spend some time with us.
To a normal kid this might sound scary -- flying by themselves. Well ... my Natalie is not a normal kid. She has stared death in the face and won! She was 8 years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia, uprooted from her home in Alaska, and airlifted to Seattle without saying goodbye to anyone. Plus, all the medical stuff she had to endure -- like having a port placed, undergoing chemo, taking tons of medication daily and always wondering if she was going to even live.
After her family lived at Ronald McDonald house near Seattle Children's Hospital they moved in with my family while she continued treatment.
It's so touching to see the bond that Natalie and my kids have created even with thousands of miles between them. She is an only child, so they are the closest thing she has to brothers and sisters.
Last year, she spent two weeks with us and this year she wanted to spend a whole month with us! She arrived on June 20 and we put her on a plane home Saturday.
Since she is a minor, only one person could go through security with her and that was her favorite aunt ... me! Everyone else said their goodbyes to her outside of security and they waited at the Starbucks with my husband. I was doing fine until it was time for her to board the plane. That's when we hugged and said goodbye.
It always kills me when she turns and looks at me as she's walking away down the ramp! I always lose it! Then I have to stand and watch her flight until it's in the air because she is a minor.
Goodbyes are never fun whether they are temporary or permanent and with this special girl you don't want to take one single day for granted.