• Sue Skalicky

The endless journey

Updated: May 3

My stomach tightens and the muscles in my upper back and neck spasm with stress.

“I’m not going.”

We calmly continue putting suitcases and water bottles in the car. I pause and text our dear friend and pastor, “Can you please come over. She won’t get in the car. She likes you. Maybe she’ll listen to you.”

One more text, “We are going to need you. She won’t get in the car.” The mental health caseworker quickly replies, “I’m on my way.”

Three of us walk out and get in the car. I start the engine to stave off the cold that has set in so early in November. It is 5 p.m. We met our goal of being ready by 5. But, we don’t move. She’s still inside.

The pastor has arrived and I pray he’s making some progress with her. A few minutes later the caseworker smiles weakly at us and enters the house. We sit in the car and wait. No one speaks.

Two years ago we opened our home as an Airbnb to help pay our bills. We seem to always be full, blessed by extra income and new friendships. Today, as we sit waiting, the familiar car of our current guests pulls in the driveway. They’ve been with us for two months. Med techs from Texas, working temporarily at the local hospital. I get out of the car and give her a hug. “She won’t get in the car. Do you want to try?”

“Of course.”

I climb back in the car with the blast of cold air that follows me and I shudder. What do we do now? She’s 15. She’s strong and angry. Long gone are the days we could pick her up and carry her to the doctor’s office or to bed, even against her will.

We look at each other and sigh. The thought of the long drive ahead to the pediatric behavioral hospital four states away makes me weary as the winter sun rides low on the horizon at this early hour. We need to get going.

After thirty minutes the garage door opens and the caseworker emerges alone. I look at her expectantly and she raises a thumb in triumph. I roll down the window and thank her.

“It wasn’t me. It was your Airbnb guest.”

A few minutes later our daughter comes through the door, anger clouding her face and a large colorful blanket wrapped around her body. I hold my breath. The moment her door shuts I put the car in reverse and back into the street. The pastor, caseworker, and Airbnb guest stand in the driveway together and wave. Empathetic smiles fill us with enough courage to once again embrace this endless journey.

It's a journey that began when we first looked into her beautiful pain-filled eyes in the orphanage seven years ago. A journey of love that won't ever end.

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