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Our memories contain where our strength was born

I was just seventeen years old when I boarded the plane in Chicago heading to Germany. I was traveling by myself and to somewhere I had only heard about in stories from my Grandparents and my Father. I would be staying with a relative I hadn't yet met in person and I would be there for 6 weeks. I was anxious for the adventure but I was also terrified.

A few months prior to that flight taking off I had a short stay in the hospital. Once again tests were ordered and doctors debated about whether or not they should yank out that ever growing spleen of mine. I was not going to cancel my trip and my surgeon knew that I was a stubborn patient. He granted me permission to go but only if I promised to follow some basic rules. I agreed but how closely I followed those rules was questionable.

The cousin I would be staying with was someone I had been a pen-pal to since I was 12 years old. Andrea is 5 years older than me but quickly we became friends in addition to being family. My trip to G…

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