It’s not very often these days that I’m relatively alone. My little threesome and I are a wolfpack of sorts. Ok: a messy, chirpy, sparkly wolfpack. But pretty much always together.
A few weeks ago though, it was only the babe and me in the minivan. I’m driving to shake my postpartum self at a “Zumba-thon” to raise funds and support for a former co-worker fighting the battle of his life. And I’m wondering (almost aloud), if each of my family members knows just exactly how I feel about them…
On the rare occasion that I am semi-alone, I almost always find myself with the same urgency. Feeling a gnawing that my daughters may be unaware of what it is that I adore about them right now. That my husband might not know exactly why he is still the man I choose to be in love with until my dying day. That this little baby wouldn’t know that I already see glimpses of his personality and cherish him well beyond his weeks.
And my thoughts wander to my friend Heather who lost her mother at a very young age and to my friend Amanda whose mom passed away when she was a teen. Were these women (who are now incredible mothers themselves) certain with every bit of their soul just how glorious their mothers already knew they were?
I want my crew to know. To know that I see them. And that they are spectacular.
And I ask: if something happened right now, would my life, my words, resonate with them in a loving way? Would they know exactly what they mean to me? How special they are?
I wretch out a nauseous gut cry as I mentally answer. Of course, they couldn’t! Not with the way I act most of the time these days. With all the snapping and the shortness and the griping. With the tired sighs and continuous correcting.
Yes, I do need to behave better. But I also know I need to write it down. To write to them. Perhaps a letter to each, I think. I resolve on the drive.
And then that Friday happens.
Suddenly we’re all reeling. Mouths gaping at the evil. Breath taken at the heroism. Hearts breaking at the emptiness…
The next day I go to a small local production of the Nutcracker with my kids. I catch myself quietly sobbing at the precious multitude of gumdrops and baby mice. Because across the country, there is undoubtedly a production of the Nutcracker that is missing some gumdrops. Or baby mice. Or ginger children.
I know many of my mama friends are feeling it too. The weight of the privilege of this time with our ones. And we’re all hugging our kindergarteners and 1st graders especially tight.
Later that night, my husband and I are watching news coverage and speaking in hushed tones. We’re shaking our heads and looking at each other wide-eyed.
“Can you imagine?” he says. “Coming home without her…?” His voice trails off as I squeeze my eyes shut hard and hang my head.
And I gulp because I do. Imagine it. More often than any healthy person should. Occupational hazard, I guess. Sadly, I know many of my co-workers and I do occasionally imagine the scape of our homes without our little ones. Right now we’re all picturing life without these insightful, creative, goofy school age kids. I feel sick when I imagine the very sound of my home without her constant singing and narrating all-the-time…
Or I shudder at the possibility of even having to talk honestly to my sensitive girl about what she witnessed happen to her friends, or to her teacher.
Then I tell my husband about the preacher from Colorado that I saw being interviewed on television earlier. The one that was really telling it. Talking about a fallen world and evil and how God is still with us, in and through it all.
And suddenly we’re having church up in our living room. We’re talking of mourning and comfort. We’re looking up verses like 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. We’re wondering how to best be the very hands of God and offer some peace in the midst of crisis and disaster.
Then the baby really gets going. And so I’m up pacing with him.
But still there is that gnawing, that urging, that knowing that I’m supposed to be living a life obedient. Supposed to write some stuff down. Supposed to be prepared.
As the babe and I shuffle, I’m humming the tune “Better than a Hallejuh” and thinking of those precious lyrics: “God loves a lullaby in a mother’s tears in the dead of night better than a hallelujah sometimes… We pour out our miseries. God just hears a melody. Beautiful, the mess we are. The honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah.”
I’m praying as I stride thinking “Please Lord, don’t let me forget. Help me to say what you would have me say.”
Because it’s really hard to write when you pace the tile floors, shoulder covered in spit up, and arms full of colicky baby.
But I’m thankful… because my arms are so full.