In August of last year, Hannah, an exchange student from Germany, moved into our guest room for the upcoming school year.
I was a bit hesitant to take on a student for the entire year. I'm the kind of person who likes my space and adding one more person's schedule to our already crazy family routine might not work.
We had hosted two students before, but only for three weeks each.
One student, Cecile from France, was amazing. She was willing to try anything and so appreciative of every experience. Three weeks with her was not enough.
The second student, Marina from Spain, was absolutely horrible. She was afraid of our dogs and pretty much expected to be waited on while she was here.
Not. gonna. happen.
When we got the call asking us to host Hannah, I was very cautious. I feared we would end up with another Marina and then be 'stuck' with her all year.
I poured over Hannah's application, looking for signs of trouble.
Hannah was the oldest of three kids and the same age as my daughter. She played the flute and loved to read. She said she was "good at helping other people solve their problems" and "a good listener."
All of these qualities seemed to make Hannah a perfect fit for us. I said "yes."
I'm so thankful that I did.
Hannah left us this past Saturday to return to Germany. It was a long, tearful, heartbreaking goodbye. Over the past 10 months, we all came to love Hannah as if she were one of our own.
Hannah and my daughter became as close as sisters, which made this past week with its windup to the goodbye that much more difficult. Hannah had a five hour layover in Chicago and they spent it on Facetime with each other. My heart broke as I watched each of them let go.
Turns out, we were the lucky ones.
We will miss you, Hannah Banana.