Why do we do this? She is leaving behind thirteen years of dance. A boyfriend. Her family and friends. Why? I can’t answer, but she has always felt a call and said she would serve a mission. I’m proud of the person that she has become that moves her to do so. Last night we talked after she was set apart by our stake president. In her blessing she was invested with power. Commissioned to be a minister. She told me that she felt that power. She felt as though she was the equal of anyone out there in terms of what she could do. After a blessing rich with promises, our Stake President reminded her that at her farewell she mentioned Sam Brown’s modified story of the footprints in the sand (he said in his seven years as stake president she was the first one to quote Sam Brown, of whom he heartily approved—and I would add who should be much more widely quoted in missionary farewells and elsewhere. So read this. It had a profound influence on my daughter). He reiterated how there would never be one set of footprints, or even two, but scores—the footprints of multitudes. He reminded her that many were with her who would lift and support her through this adventure. The words I said of my son six years ago seem fitting and so I say of her:
As I watch [her] go, I toy with the thought that my [daughter] begins a kind of archetypal hero’s journey. [She] goes into the forest alone and unrecognized. I hope [she] finds helping spirits and kind strangers on the way—as the tales suggest [she] should. I hope [she] destroys the demons and monsters that will rise to oppose [her] and that in the end [she] obtains the treasures [she] seeks. I pray [her] true nature will be revealed and [she] returns at journey’s end to claim the kingdom.
I’m afraid though. My breath feels drained and uncertain. I know that it does not always end like it does in fairytales. I’m confronted with fear because I know monsters are real and dangerous. We’ve provisioned [her] as best we can, but now [she] must journey on without us. Alone.
But unexpectedly, as I continue to watch [her] go, I’m transfused with hope. I remember [she] is not alone. That you all are there. That there are helping hands on this and the other side of the veil. And that no matter what happens, in success or failure, [she] will be loved. [She] is a hero already. Of course.