“You make it ALL better for Momma,” I said as I looked down at the biggest, brightest, brownest eyes I had ever seen! I was so happy to finally meet her, especially after I had been dreaming of her for nine long months. The nine months of pregnancy seemed like an eternity to me, but oh my God, when they put her in my arms every single thing inside of me instantly settled into a place of LOVE. I didn’t even know a place like that existed until I met Brittany. I was better somehow, happier somehow, healed somehow.
“This is unconditional love,” I thought. She will ALWAYS love ME and I, will ALWAYS love HER. My child. My daughter. I knew she was a gift sent to me from Heaven because perfection like this could only come from there! But I also knew, even during those first moments, that one day, she would grow up, and she would create a life apart from me. Just like I did. Just like we all did.
“How long do I get you for?” I whispered to her as I cuddled her close to me.
Do I get you long enough to feel your breath on my face? Do I get you long enough to gaze at you while you sleep? Do I get you long enough to bounce you around or take you for a car ride when you are colicky? Do I get you long enough to watch your roll over onto your belly and sit up for the first time? Do I get you long enough to see your first smile? Your first tear? Do I get you long enough to watch you take your first steps? Do I get you long enough to watch you run? Do I get you long enough to hear your voice and share hours of secret conversations with you? Do I get you long enough to fix your hair on the first day of school and long enough to tell you that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to?
Do I get you long enough to empower you, to tell you that you can be on an all-boys basketball team and succeed! Do I get you long enough to congratulate you on Young Authors and straight A’s! Do I get you long enough to go through all the “girl” things and braces and boys? Do I get you long enough to watch you sing and dance on a stage or congratulate you on your first dollar earned? Do I get you long enough to take pictures at your prom? Do I get you long enough to watch you select a career that speaks to the TRUTH of who you are? Do I get you long enough to feel you rush into my arms, just home from studies in London? Do I get you long enough to call you “Fruit Punch”? Do I get you long enough to witness the wonderful woman, sister, daughter, and friend you will become?
She came bounding through the front door with a big huge smile on her face and I was instantly excited for her, for whatever wonderful news she was about to share with me.
“I’m moving, Mom! I found an apartment with two roommates! I’m moving! Oh my God, wait until you see it, it’s really cute! You’re gonna love it!”
“No I won’t!” I thought. But I smiled just the same.
“I am soo old,” I thought as I tried to catch my breath and ignore the cramping in my legs that started on the 2nd flight of a winding stair case that would lead to her apartment.
“One more flight to go and just around the corner there, Mom. Be careful! Those steps are a death trap!” she warned.
I didn’t think I could make it another step with that box in my arms. Or maybe I didn’t want to make it another step. How could I leave her here? How could I leave her anywhere without me? Or better… How can I be anywhere without HER?
We drove home very solemnly that night from the city… without Brittany of course, as she was settling in to her new apartment. I cried most of the way home but hid it pretty well other than the occasional sniffle which invaded the silence in the car.
Arriving at home we all settled into our nightly routine and as I picked up the phone to make my nightly calls, it RANG! It was Brittany. We spent the next hour talking and laughing. She sent me pictures of how she decorated her room and told me about all the ideas she had about living in the city, experiencing new things and best of all, saving so much time in her commute. When it was time to go we exchanged heart-felt “I Love Yous” and she agreed to text me when she made it to work safely the next day, and she did… just like she always has! I am trying to convince Marissa to never ever leave because I am pretty sure that no matter how many years I have to love my girls… it will never be long enough!
I do miss Britt living at home. I miss her physical presence and knowing that I can just hug her any time I want. I miss hearing her laughter around the house, even though I carry it my heart. I miss hearing the excitement in her voice when she tells me about her day, even though I carry the song of her soul in my heart.
Life is very simply a series of HELLOS and GOODBYES. We say Hello. We say Goodbye… and we say Hello once again. I have discovered the best way to embrace these changes and transitions is to find a NEW way to say HELLO during the GOODBYE.