The whole group in front of the pagoda.
The whole group in front of the pagoda.

When it’s a sunny Sunday in Munich everyone heads to the biergarden. That’s exactly what Ella, Jo, Andreas and I did after an historic Google+ Hangout with the founder of Passion Passport (Ella is the oldest person to ever do a video chat face-to-face via Google+!). We drove over to the English Garden (which is larger than New York City’s Central Park) ready to soak in the sun at the biergarden that sits next to the park’s large pagoda. Todd, Laurie, Steffi, and Steffi’s sister were already halfway through their first massive beers, listening to the traditional Bavarian band that played from one of the pagoda’s balconies. The sun felt fantastic on our faces and Ella was certainly loving the urban “beach” atmosphere, titling her face to the sun. I could feel my freckles making their way to my forehead. The vibe was truly happy.

Soaking up the sun at the biergarden.
Soaking up the sun at the biergarden.
Playing a game with Ella.
Playing a game with Ella.

We played a silly hand-over-hand game while sitting at the table in between bites of pretzel. I tried my turn at holding a full giant beer at arms length for at least a minute. (And I succeeded–thank you swimming muscles!) Jo treated us to more Bavarian cuisine than we could finish. We laughed and chatted and enjoyed the warmth of the afternoon.

Eventually the sun receded below the trees. It was time for Ella, Andreas, and Jo to leave–they had a seven hour drive back to Berlin and Jo didn’t want to fall asleep at the wheel. Suddenly the week with Ella was over. How could it be? We had planned and anticipated this adventure for months and now it was…over? It couldn’t be.

Saying our goodbyes.
Saying our goodbyes.

I hugged Ella and the tears burst hot from my eyes. “I will never forget you,” I said to her. “Thank you for letting me spend time with you. You have shown me so much about life. You are my family now.” She hugged me and then rubbed her hand over her heart. I didn’t want to let her go. Would I ever see her again? The entire group was thinking the same thoughts, crying behind their sunglasses.

“Thank you for everything,” I said with one last hug. Jo and Andreas then helped her into her wheelchair as I watched on. We waved goodbye and I cried even harder.

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