And She’s Off!

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After a two month delay we finally found ourselves 12 hours from Molly’s departure…

And it was with a muddy mix of emotions that we prepared our hearts for her leave. It was so good and yet so hard, and I found myself navigating one of those happy/sad days we have talked about in the past. How can one’s heart feel so full of gratitude and joy and yet so empty at the thought of impending loss?

It was an emotional minefield we were all navigating.

Part of me wanted to pause time so as to etch out a few more weeks…or years…of time with Molly before she took flight. Yet another part of me was eager to move past the dread and anticipation of the inevitable and just rip the Band-Aid off already. As I watched the minutes pass by on that final day before her departure, I couldn’t decide if I needed the hands of the clock to slow down or speed up.

So, I tried to not even look at the clock, and instead focused on each moment I had with my sweet ray of sunshine.

Our final day with Molly was filled with the mundane and uneventful moments of everyday life. We ran to the store to get groceries for her dinner request, did a final pick-up/clean-up of her bedroom, and watched the final two episodes of the series “Christy,” a favorite series from my childhood which has become our daily mother/daughter indulgence. It was all such normal stuff, but they gained significance and value in my heart knowing that those “normal” activities with Molly would be paused for the next year and a half.

President Hoke arrived at our home at 6:00 pm to conduct Molly’s final interview and officially set her apart as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

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Due to Covid-19 regulations, we had only immediate family attend, and her setting apart took place in our home rather than at the church. It was a beautiful and moving experience as she was blessed and received divine guidance and council for the 16 months ahead.

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We then took advantage of everyone looking spiffy in their church clothes to capture some final pictures with Sister McCleery.

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Molly’s last night at home was spent taking care of last minute tasks like laying out her clothes for an early morning flight and printing out her boarding tickets. Grace and Zach joined us for dinner. We had Molly’s favorite: spaghetti pizza, Caesar salad, and baguettes toasted with garlic oil.

After dinner we all gathered in the living room for family scripture study with Sister McCleery. Before we headed to bed Molly called me into her room to present a special gift she had made me. She acknowledged the loneliness I might feel in her absence so she put together a shadowbox bearing one of her sweaters and missionary name tags. “It is just something to make you feel like I’m still around when you are feeling sad,” she explained.

It was a gift of love beyond measure and will be treasured for the next 16 months and far beyond!

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I don’t think anyone slept much that night. We were all struggling with our own mix of emotions about the upcoming farewell the next morning, while also feeling anxious that we might oversleep.

The house began to stir at 4:00 am. The dozen alarms we set out of fear of not waking up, didn’t let us down. Molly was the last to arise. I went in to check on her progress at 4:30 am only to discover her still fast asleep. I’m glad I went in to check on her! Evidently she decided not to set her alarm since everyone else had multiple alarms set. She figured someone would wake her up.

We were out the door by 5:00 am and on our way to the Pittsburgh airport.

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Braden and Tyler opted not to go with us. When we woke them up they said they would rather say good-bye and go back to sleep. I think the thought of watching Molly walk through security was just too much to manage. It would feel too much like she was walking out of their lives forever.

Although it was just Rusty, Toby and I seeing her off from our home, Grace and Zach woke early and met us at the airport to say goodbye. It meant the world to Molly and was an incredible act of kindness on Zach and Gracie’s part. They surprised Molly with signs to celebrate the start of this new adventure.

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As we entered the airport they were there waiting for us with the signs in hand.

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We checked Molly’s luggage and made our way toward security.

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There, outside the metal detectors, we said our good-byes…

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Stealing a few final hugs and kisses from our sweet girl.

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There were tears, words of love and encouragement, final reminders, and one last squeeze from each of us before she headed on her way.

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It was with a mix of emotions that we drove home.

I had a knot in my stomach all day as I waited for word that she successfully navigated her connecting flights and arrived safely in Utah. At 4:30pm I received the call I had been waiting for. She made it safely to Utah, met with her mission president and his wife,

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And was handed over to the two sister missionaries that will serve as her companions for the time being. Sister Seal hails from California and Sister Briones is from the Philippines.

It was a quick phone call but Molly sounded wonderful, and it gave me such peace of mind to know she made it safely and was settling in just fine.

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We will be getting a virtual visit with Molly twice a week, in addition to emails and letters. I think that will definitely make things easier for the boys. It will help confirm the fact that although Molly is gone for a while, she isn’t gone from their lives forever.

She will also be emailing a weekly updates with pictures and news about her mission, which I will be sharing on the blog once a week, so all our friends around the world who have watched Molly grow up on this blog can continue following her adventures.

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For now, I am happy to report that Miss Molly is safe and well and living her best life, and we couldn’t be happier for her!

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