Opinion: Haunted by ‘what ifs?’


My daughter survived an earthquake. In Africa. And she’s fine, but I am still shaking. Here’s the tea.

Our 19-year-old is on a gap year, backpacking across Europe and working in hostels to stretch her Java House earnings as far as she can. She’s been all over, from Albania to Portugal, and recently committed to a monthlong position in a beachside Moroccan guest house because it’s cheap and she gets free surfing lessons.

Allow me to pause the story to say that my husband and I, though mildly concerned at the beginning of this adventure, usually don’t give her much thought. Yes, we’ve seen “Taken” and she is a young female traveling solo, but she’s smart, does her research and has grown tremendously since she left in April. We trust her to make good decisions. Plus, out of sight, out of mind. I got my own stuff!

But the other night, our budding Rick Steves called to recount a harrowing tale of her dramatic brush with death. “Mom, the building started shaking and we ran down the stairs, but the lights went out and I fell, and then we had to get up a hill because, like, tsunamis, and oh my god, I was so scared…” I played it cool thinking she was exaggerating, but then it hit the news: “Biggest quake in centuries, thousands dead, Marrakesh devastated.” Cue maternal panic attack.

She’s OK and was never in any real danger, but the “what ifs?” continue to shake me. I’ve been abruptly reminded that I’ll always be a parent, even when my adult children are living their best lives an ocean away.

Peace out.


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