I was in shock when she told me last year. Africa? I know she hasn't had many foreign holidays, but really could she not have picked somewhere familiar, like France? All sorts of horrible thoughts swirled around my brain, from tropical diseases to danger and back again via creepy bugs and dirty water.
But no, Angel and three of her friends had decided to try and make a difference to the lives of children living in an orphanage in southern Africa, by spending a month as volunteers for an Irish charity that works in the area. Everyone I spoke to told me that she would be fine, and gradually I realised that this trip is something to celebrate: my Angel is spreading her wings.
So began months of planning and fund-raising. Bags were packed, mass-goers were begged, quiz junkies were entertained, injections were borne, respectable clothes were bought, and every last detail checked and rechecked. I let her at it. Her organisational skills have always been excellent. And she is a grown up after all.
The flight left at six this morning. She left at four. I did not need an alarm to wake me. We sat in the hall, yawning, in peaceful silence, waiting for her lift to the airport. Everything had been said. And with one last hug and a few whispered words, she stepped out into the dark, dragging the suitcases behind her.
When I came down this morning, there were two notes on the kitchen table, one for her brother and one for me.
"Please try not to worry," she wrote, and promised to get in touch when she could.
I think she's ready for this and I think she'll do just fine. But roll on the end of June...