Before I set off to see my daughter for the first time, we had to organize a lot. Father Michael spent much time on the phone. First, he told the convent about my visit. Then, he asked some members of the parish for accommodation for me. He also bought me new clothes, which would protect me from winter’s cold. Finally, the day of departure came and I was incredibly excited and nervous but also full of anticipation.
It was three weeks before Christmas. The nave of the church was decorated festively. It snowed and the streets were covered in white. Restlessly, I fiddled around with my new clothes. I wasn’t used to wear clothing in other colors than black. But Father Michael said I would attract less attention, if I wore more neutral stuff. So, without grumbling I put on the blue jeans, the red turtle neck sweater and the khaki-green coat. I hid my long hair under a peaked cap. This also helped hiding my eyes. The remarkable color of my eyes was the first thing people would be able to remember. The Father made me promise not to travel by night but by day, which would make it more difficult to attract attention. Since I had told the Father, that my dear disgusting friends recently lay in wait right in front of our door, he was very worried they might follow me and would soon find out where I went and what I did there. That was something we tried to avoid.
I looked into the mirror one last time. Then, I went to the kitchen, where Father Michael just put a bottle of water into my backpack. He looked up at me, forcing a smile. He has been in a pretty gloomy mood and also hasn’t been very talkative all morning. I knew it wasn’t easy for him to let me go. But I just had to do it: for myself, for him, for all of us. I had to find meaning of life again. Without this trip, which starts today, I couldn’t carry on. In silence, I watched the Father as he walked over to the fridge, taking out a plastic box.
“Some food to strengthening me on my way to the monastery?” I asked, winking at him. He nodded. My attempt to ease up the atmosphere didn’t work out. He just stowed away the food and tied up the backpack, pulling at the ribbons and buckles tighter than it was necessary. Maybe it was his way to allow free rein to his grind. Finally, he checked all pockets and zippers. Then, he helped me put on the backpack. Together, we climbed up the stairs to his office and walked side by side without saying a word until we reached the baptismal font in the nave of the church. Father Michael suddenly took my hand and kept me from walking on.
Surprised I looked at him, seeing him examining and feeling my fingers. He brought them to his mouth and gently kissed the fingertips one by one. He came closer to me and put my hand on his chest. “I wait here for you, Ada. Every day, I will watch out for you,” he said, looking into my eyes. A passionate fire flared up in them, taking my breath away. A few moments ago, I had been so cool and full of anticipation. Now I was choked. I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. “Thank you,” I whispered and felt him nodding. He understood what I was meaning: my gratitude for him to let me go. We kissed one last time. Then, I turned around and went to the portal. “I love you, Ada,” the Father said behind me.
I turned around, grinning. Playfully, I blew him a kiss. It made him smile. It was the first time this morning it came from the heart.
I stepped into the daylight. Before the door slammed shut, I looked back at Father Michael and saw his pained expression.
I kept my promise and travelled only by day. The hikes were exhausting, the train rides were tiring. In return, all of my hosts were friendly, helpful and anxious to take good care of me. I was grateful for their support. Every day, I kissed the list with the names of the members of the parish and the plan telling me which way to go. Altogether, it took me three days until I finally saw the ancient walls of the monastery, where my baby girl was. Relieved, I took a deep breath and quickly conquered the last meters of my journey.
Two weeks before Christmas…
One week before Christmas…