This Mom’s Surprise Trip To See Her Daughter At College Takes An Unexpected Turn
McKenna was nearing the end of her freshman year at Utah State University. Her mom, Deanna Pilling, missed her dearly and wanted to give her a surprise visit. So, she packed up a suitcase and flew from New York to Utah.
Once there, she visited McKenna’s dorm room, only to find it empty. To say “hi”, she snapped a selfie while lying in McKenna’s bed. Then, something unexpected happened.
Deanna Pilling’s Surprise
Deanna Pilling’s sole intent was to surprise McKenna at college. Although Deanna had already made plans to meet up with McKenna the next day, she decided to surprise her by arriving a day early instead.
Clearly, Deanna missed her daughter McKenna who was all the way across the country for a whole year! Although the sentiment is easy to understand and the action came from the heart, it’s also safe to say that mom was taking a gamble by showing up without her daughter knowing in advance.
They Were Close
That being said, mom and daughter were very close, and that closeness was something they both treasured. When the topic of college came around, Deanna thought McKenna would stay in New York. She didn’t. Instead, McKenna wanted to go all the way to Utah.
Although difficult, Deanna knew it was time for her little bird to leave the nest. That was the only way she would truly grow into her own person. Deanna was sad to see McKenna go but excited for her to start something new.
Doing Something Nice For McKenna
A year was a long time for McKenna to be all the way across the country. Although she was coming home for the summer, Deanna thought it would be fun for her to come to Utah as well. So, she let McKenna know she intended to make a visit.
Deanna’s simple wish to show up at her daughter’s campus in Utah wasn’t so simple after all. It turns out that turning up at McKenna’s dorm room without a proper invitation was a recipe for disaster.
Deanna’s Last-Minute Flight
Regardless of whether it was necessary to fly to Utah if McKenna was coming to New York in just a few days, Deanna decided it was something she wanted to do. The only bug in the plan was the fact that the last day before summer break is very busy.
College kids are busy cleaning up their rooms and hanging out with friends. There’s not a lot of time for family matters, but nevertheless, Deanna was eager to surprise her daughter.
McKenna Doesn’t Answer
Right before getting on the flight, Deanna gave McKenna a call. She wanted to see what McKenna was up to for the night. Mom hoped the answer was “nothing really” because she planned on spending quality time with her.
Unfortunately, however, McKenna didn’t pick up her phone. Deanna, understandably, was frustrated, but there was nothing she could do – the flight was ready to board. With that uncertainty playing at the back of her mind, Deanna boarded the plane, found her seat, and got herself ready for a long flight.
Deanna Touches Down In Utah
It took about five hours to get from New York to the city of Logan, where Utah State is located. Despite the slight concern about not being able to reach her daughter, Deanna was absolutely thrilled to be so close.
Deanna smiled to herself as she imagined the look of surprise on McKenna’s face when they would finally get to meet. With that in mind, she hopped in a cab and headed toward the campus. During the ride, her phone began to ring. It was McKenna.
Deanna Doesn’t Answer
The ringing took Deanna by surprise. If she picked it up and tried to act cool, she knew her surprise would be foiled because she was never great at lying. In a panicked attempt to keep her daughter out of the loop and in for a surprise, she didn’t answer her phone.
Instead, she let it ring. She was now minutes away from the campus now, her heart racing faster. The only trouble with her plan, however, was the fact that she didn’t know exactly where McKenna stayed.
Where Was McKenna’s Dorm?
In the fall, Deanna came to the Utah State campus to help her daughter get ready for school. At the time, she was too excited and nervous to pay really close attention to exactly where McKenna’s dorm was. Now, she wishes she had.
She racked her brain trying to remember the name of McKenna’s dorm. For the life of her, she couldn’t figure it out. So, she walked around aimlessly. Her frustration grew as she tried to decide her next move.
Deanna Gets Overwhelmed
To say Deanna was mildly frustrated is an understatement – she was properly overwhelmed! The campus was a beehive of activity. Since school was soon to be done for the summer, all the students – and many of the student’s parents – were racing around campus trying to move everything into their cars.
Deanna felt lost. The campus didn’t seem that big when she came here in the fall, but now that she didn’t know where to go, it seemed huge. How would she find McKenna?
Deanna’s Low Profile
Although lost and overwhelmed, Deanna tried to stay calm. She needed to keep a low profile so she could surprise her daughter. That meant asking for directions was too risky – Deanna had no idea who knew her daughter or who might recognize her.
So, she kept her head down and continued the search. Unfortunately, that meant that she didn’t make any progress. She remained lost. However, she decided that pacing around campus might help her get her bearings straight, so she tried it.
It turns out that a bit of wandering worked! After pacing around the campus for a while, Deanna saw some familiar landmarks and followed them all the way to McKenna’s dorm room. From seeing McKenna’s social media posts, Deanna recognized that a bunch of the girls outside the dorms were McKenna’s friends.
Deanna let out a tremendous sigh of relief. This had to be McKenna’s dorm room, why else would her friends be there? Although it was a harrowing adventure, Deanna was finally where she needed to be.
Time For An Entrance!
So, with no more time to spare, Deanna walked through the doors, down the hall, and hopped in the elevator to make it to McKenna’s floor. Upon finding her daughter’s door, she took a breath in, let it out, and knocked.
Nothing happened. No sound came from the other side of the door and neither did anyone walk up to answer. Deanna tried again – nothing. Now she was in a bit of a bind. Was it better to stand outside and wait or go inside?
A Bold Move
Deanna decided that she needed to be bold. Standing outside wasn’t going to cut it, so she grabbed the door handle and jiggled it around. When doing that, she instantly realized that the door wasn’t locked.
That’s a bit odd, Deanna thought to herself. Why wouldn’t McKenna lock the door? Wasn’t she concerned about intruders or thieves coming in to rummage through all her stuff? Deanna put these concerns aside and decided to act rather than think. She opened the door.
Upon entering the dorm, Deanna noticed that there were a few other girls in the nearby rooms packing up their belongings for the summer. It seemed odd to her that they didn’t hear the door. Regardless, Deanna waved hello to them, walked past, and headed toward McKenna’s room.
She knocked again, but there was no answer. Perhaps McKenna was listening to music, or maybe she was deliberately ignoring her knocks. Regardless, Deanna grabbed the doorknob, gave it a twist, and opened the door.
A Surprising Sight
Immediately upon opening the door, Deanna saw that no one was there. The room was completely empty minus some school supplies. If all McKenna’s roommates were in their rooms getting everything for summer break, why wasn’t McKenna doing the same?
It was quite the shock. Deanna began to second-guess her spontaneous plan. Perhaps hopping on a plane from New York to surprise her daughter in a dorm room wasn’t such a great idea. Considering it was the last day before summer, McKenna was probably out hanging with her friends.
All Ready Already
After processing the shock and reflecting a bit, Deanna took a closer look around her daughter’s dorm. She saw boxes tidily filled with school supplies, photos were taken off the wall and placed away, and clothing neatly folded up into suitcases.
Of course, McKenna wasn’t here – she had already packed everything! Although she got a touch of pride at raising a daughter to plan ahead so well, she was also a little sad that she was nowhere to be found. She must have been with friends.
After a five-hour flight, a long cab ride, and a heck of a time trying to find her daughter’s dorm, Deanna was exhausted. Not only physically, but also emotionally – all her built-up excitement only led to an empty room.
She looked around, a little saddened, and zeroed in on one thing left untouched: McKenna’s bed. The sheets were nicely tucked in and the pillow looked comfy. So, she took off her shoes and laid down for a bit, thinking of what to do.
No Time To Sleep
Although exhausted, Deanna was in no mood for a nap. Plus, if McKenna came back any time soon, Deanna would feel like a fool if she wasted such a perfect (and meticulously planned) surprise by falling asleep instead. No, she would have to stay awake.
But she couldn’t just lie there doing nothing. After thinking it over for a moment, she came to her next move: a phone call. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. She would use her phone, but not to make a call.
Deanna Took A Selfie
Instead, Deanna would use her phone to take a selfie. The thought of her taking a surprise selfie in her daughter’s bed filled her with good cheer, so she put on a smile, held the camera up, and snapped away.
After she settled on the perfect pic, she rummaged through her phone to find McKenna’s contact info. Then, she sent it off her selfie. She knew McKenna would both love it and be surprised at the fact that her mom traveled thousands of miles to see her.
McKenna’s Unexpected Response
The message went through as Deanna stayed in the room waiting for a reply. The response, however, wasn’t what she expected. Instead of expressing her love and surprise, McKenna expressed confusion in a simple two-word reply: where’s that?
Did McKenna forget her own room? Deanna waited for clarification, which came moments later when McKenna wrote, “I’m in my dorm.” Whoops! Panic flooded through Deanna’s body as she realized what McKenna soon put into words, “ Please tell me you’re not in someone else’s dorm.”
Immediately the comfy bed turned into a pit of vipers as Deanna jumped out of it, shocked by the realization that she wasn’t in her daughter’s room. Instead, she was in some random student’s room. What if that student came back to find a random mom taking selfies on the bed? Awkward.
To avoid that awkward possibility becoming a reality, Deanna left the room as quickly as she entered it. Once she made it outside, she texted her daughter to confirm she was in another student’s room.
Time For A Laugh
Now that Deanna was safely away from a potentially awkward situation – both from the incoming student and from the school staff who would have been suspicious – she had time to reflect on the incident. She felt sick.
She began questioning why she went with gut instinct rather than looking at the name of the building. Then, she began to think about the other students in the dorm: what did they think about her? Rather than embarrassment, however, most of these reflections brought on laughter.
McKenna Is Nearby
To cut mom some slack, where she thought McKenna’s room was and where it actually was, wasn’t too far apart. Deanna was in the right dorm building and on the correct floor, she simply got the dorm room number incorrect.
Once she made it to McKenna’s room, her daughter was still pleasantly surprised. Plus, it turns out Deanna was in the dorm of one of McKenna’s friends, so it wouldn’t have been that awkward. Alongside surprise, McKenna got a huge laugh, so she decided to post the text on Twitter.
A Viral Tweet
Shortly after McKenna posted the selfie and story to Twitter, her friends and followers began to comment. One comment, in particular, caught both Deanna and Mckenna’s eyes and made them both laugh. “Is that my pillow?” McKenna’s friend asked.
At first, the tweet garnered a few comments like the ones above. Then, all of sudden, it exploded beyond the confines of McKenna’s social network. The tweet went viral. Users simply couldn’t get enough of the funny and endearing mistake that Deanna made.
McKenna always knew her mom was great for surprises. However, the selfie surprise visit is by far the best surprise she’s ever undertaken. The fact that the tweet went viral gave McKenna a pleasant dopamine burst – she loved the attention.
Who didn’t love the attention, however, was Deanna. Perhaps it was because she came from a different generation. Deanna expected the tweet to be seen and shared by a few family members and friends, so she wasn’t thrilled when it reached thousands more people.
Deanna Wanted A Better Selfie
As time went by, however, Deanna’s attitude toward the viral tweet changed. Rather than being overwhelmed by a silly mistake being seen by thousands or millions of people, she focused on the tweet’s ability to make people laugh – which it did in droves.
That being said, Deanna wishes one thing differently: she wishes she took a better selfie! At the time, of course, she couldn’t have known that her picture would soon go viral. Now that it did, however, she wishes she spent more time getting the perfect shot.