When Your Daughter Chooses to Live in an Airport

Prayer warriors

…continued from yesterday.

Pedro’s parents called in the middle of the night and told him that Sarah had carried out her plan and ditched them in the airport in New York City. I prayed myself back to sleep.

We woke up glum the next morning—unsure of our emotions. How does one react to one’s daughter heedlessly and senselessly choosing a course of action that could only result in heartache? Life had to go on. I spent a lot of quality time with my Bible and my tissue box. I poured out my angst in my journal.

Never underestimate the power of godly friends as they pray you through a crisis. Click To Tweet

One of my prayer warrior friends prayed with me for Sarah during this time when I could scarecly bang two coherent thought together.  I read and reread her instant message:

Dearest Jesus, You alone know where Sarah’s heart is, and perhaps You alone can speak to her right now. I thank You that she is not alone, and that You will keep her. Please Lord, surround her with your angels and cause the people in her path to intervene in her life. Please be with her heartbroken family and allow them to trust her to You during this time that they have been denied access to her life. Please reassure them that You will not leave her alone, that You will walk by her side every step of the way and that there is no power that can keep You away. Give her family rest and peace, and Lord, please remind Sarah of her family’s devoted love for her. Help her, Lord.

I had to face my biggest fears as a mother—that something would happen to my child and I would be powerless to prevent it. Once again, I relinquished a family member to God.  Something I probably should have done much earlier.

Because we had suspended her cell phone, I had no way of calling her. In one of her last texts to me she had shared that she would stay with a ‘friend’ that she met in Puerto Rico—a random stranger.

This did not ease my terror for her safety. Finally, after 48 hours of no communication, she sent me a cheery text in response to a text I had sent earlier in the hopes that she would have free wireless access in the airport. She also sent a series of photos of herself and other random people.

Anita Ojeda:
I love you! I’ll always love you!
Sarah Ojeda:
I will always love you too Marmy
I’ve met lots of really fun and nice peeps here 🙂
Just kickin’ it in the airport for days .. #fortheWIN
Anita Ojeda:
Having a selfie fest?
Sarah Ojeda:
Mnoooo
Group selfies Ahahah
Nathaniel is the younger one
And other one is Indian
Can’t remember name
Anita Ojeda:
Indian from India?
Sarah Ojeda:
Yea
How are you and dad?
Anita Ojeda:
Stressed! He has school board meeting on Sunday and Monday and lots to do. Otherwise fine!
Sarah Ojeda:
Ohhh
I pray for you
Love you two so
See you in December

December? What happened to March? The photos and cheerful texts eased my mind, but the fact that she didn’t seem to realize that we had suspended her phone service bothered me. Either she really didn’t need us to help her out and she would be fine on her own (this seemed unlikely since she had no money or any legal way to get money), or something had seriously altered her ability to reason.

***

As soon as we arrived in New Jersey, I didn’t even say goodbye to my grandparents. I was so relieved to be rid of them. For about three days I wandered around the airport waiting for my flight to London, chatting with strangers and buying random things at the airport stores. It surprised me when my money ran out after about a day. One of my friends gave me stuff from her store, including wireless headphones, an iPhone case, and food. I wasn’t sure how she was able to give these to me since she didn’t own the store, but I accepted them anyway.

Later I started talking with a man from India. Needing money, I asked him if I could draw his portrait for some cash. After doing so, I expected him to give me a couple hundred dollars because he was rich and I thought I had done an amazing job. I was disappointed when he only gave me forty. He left for his flight and I bought an e-cigarette with the money and smoked it while walking around the airport.

I don’t think I slept more than a couple of hours during those three days but I wasn’t tired.

***

Laura changed her Facebook profile picture to one of her and Sarah, and I quickly did the same. She might have unfriended and blocked us, but we wanted to show our love and solidarity. I probably spent too much time watching videos of her singing that I had posted on YouTube in happier times. But I longed for information and communication.

I feared that Sarah would fall into the hands of unscrupulous people and end up like the character in the song—alone, destitute and without hope.

***

On the third day I finally left the airport for a little while with two men who worked there. They told me they would take care of me. They took me to a house and gave me a meal. One guy gave me two skull-shaped hard candies with weed and I impulsively ate both of them. I showered and then they took me shopping for clothes and dropped me off at the airport again, saying they’d pick me up in an hour to go to a party in a nearby city. I never made it to the party.

At the airport I started to feel tired and strange. It didn’t occur to me that there might have been more than just weed in those candies. I fell asleep on the ground in front of the airport shuttle train and somebody woke me up and asked me if I was going to get on the train. I grabbed my luggage and got on, only to fall asleep again.

…continued tomorrow.

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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