I've been extremely busy and haven't/don't have time to post, but I wanted to let everyone know that Monica and Jose made it home safe late last night. Words cannot explain the homecoming. There were tears, gut-wrenching emotions, and tight hugs. As Monica hugged me, the first thing out of her mouth was, "I'm sorry, Miss Janet."
Sorry for what???
Sorry for not being born in the United States? Sorry for being a typical teenager and making a bad decision (Come on! What teenager has not skipped...or at least tried to skip...school???)? Sorry for not carrying her ID with her (she wasn't driving!)? Sorry for being in a town where prejudice is an accepted form of treatment toward people different than them?
Yes, Monica made a mistake. Trust me...she knows that. Unfortunately, her mistake (unlike many of mine) became (and still is) a life-changing and lifestyle-threatening one.
As the evening went on and we all enjoyed a wonderful reunion with Monica and Jose, you could see her begin to release some of her fear and apprehension that had begun to affect her interaction with others. By the end of the evening (which nearly ran into the next day! :) ), Monica was talking non-stop...explaining everything that had happened--who was nice to her, who was rude, how she had come up with different survival skills to get messages to her family, the quick thinking she had done each time they shuffled her off to a new place, and many other things. I have to hand it to her. She kept her wits about her!
Of course, Larry has posted about this as well. If you would like to read his post, click here.