I am sending you one of my greatest life treasures.
She is my oldest daughter, Emma, and she is just a few weeks shy of her fourteenth birthday. She is inherently reserved but has, within the past year, blossomed in ways that I could only have imagined. In ways that a father can only hope and dream. With her silly sense of humor, her emerging sense of adventure, her advancing maturity, and her loyal commitment to her friends and family, a visit to you, with your rich, diverse culture, seems like an amazing opportunity for Emma to continue her beautiful blooming.
Emma received her invitation to tour your great country last fall. After opening the mail and reading the information, she had no hesitation. "Mom and Dad," she said, quite boldly, "I want to go to Australia." I remember the look that passed between my wife and I. What happened to our little baby girl? The one who took a year to grow her soft, pretty blond hair on her infant head? The one who passively observed life and all of it's offerings? The one who's sweet chime of giggles was slowly replaced with the hearty, innocent laugh of adolescence? Was this the same girl who now, with uncontained excitement, wanted to up and leave us, her family, for seventeen adventure-filled days in your unique continent?
Yes. She was one and the same.
With gusto, we pursued the incredible facts of Australia, she with the six States and two Territories. She with the abundant physical resources. She with twenty million strong, seventy percent of who live in her ten largest cities. She with the varying weather, wildlife and vegetation that could be no more different than ours.
We pursued the meetings and critically reviewed the itinerary of travel plans that Emma would follow with this commitment. And then we as a family decided.
Yes, Emma, you can go to Australia.
From this decision, beautiful Australia, we have already learned many things. As parents, my wife and I are just a little nervous, truth be told, about offering up our daughter to the world. But knowing that she will be embraced by your comforting arms and and your compassionate people make this an easier decision for us. Emma has never looked back, not once, on her concrete decision to visit you. And as much as we want to shelter Emma in our cocoon of love and safety, we feel that the time is right for her to spread her wings and fly. Really, really spread them. And soar above the confines of our small corner of the world.
So Australia, on behalf of my wife and I, our families and friends, and Emma's siblings, we thank you for taking care of our precious daughter and loved one. Thank you in advance for showing her that the world doesn't have to be viewed as a big, bad, dangerous place. She will learn that, with caution, our world, beginning with you, is a marvelous, amazing potpourri of cultures and and sea of friendly, compassionate faces. That, no matter where we live, we all want the same thing. Acceptance. Compassion. Peace. Smiles.
And love. Especially love.
Thank you, Australia, for playing a part in my daughter's journey of life.
As always, big thanks for reading. I especially want to thank Peter for his kind words, via email, as we prepared our daughter for this amazing experience. Next post will be Friday, July 9. See you then...and hopefully, by then, my heart will be a little lighter.