I didn't write nor did I read to myself.
I played games. And read aloud to little ones. And held those little cherubs. And played Duck, Duck, Goose. And Yahtzee. And Connect Four and more.
I watched as they laughed their way down a steep hill covered in ice, tumbling over sides of sleds as they reached the bottom, snow covered faces.
I watched as they opened gifts that called out to them the last days of Christmas. Watched them play with those toys for the first time – scoot trucks across the floor, shoot BB's through their new air rifle, model new dresses made for a princess, shine light throughout the darkness by means of the mouth of a roaring lion and a giggling hippo.
We read books about trucks and mighty tractors. And princesses. And little critters. And green eggs and ham. And a baby named Jesus. And Bethlehem. And we laughed some more. And we played some more.
Exchanging gifts on the morning of Jesus' birthday, the most beautiful was a mirrored snowman that reflected pure, unselfish love with which it was made. Wrapped with a red scarf – or a pipe cleaner, whichever the eye chooses to see. Red symbolizing the heart – beating strong, beating hard.
Then came moments long dreaded. Moments filled with preparations for our leaving. To find our way back home to a place where I know I won't be able to breath for a time. I won't be able to think through a day without tears. Tears of sorrow for something distanced that I desperately want close once again. Tears of grief for something I have lost in proximity, at the very least. Tears of pain from my heart being ripped apart – once again.
You may not understand. May not be able to say you know how it feels because you have never felt it. Have never had your heart ripped out. Have never lost something so priceless, had something taken away that you held so dear. You may not know. You may not understand. But them, you may know all too well, maybe even to a greater depth than I.
In the missing of understanding, the goodbyes were inevitably, inevitable. A new job had to be secured. A new caregiver found. Replacements put into place. Out with the old, in with the new. Unfortunately, I am the old.
Later, we knocked at your door and you answered. Welcomed inside, we reminisced. Laughed. Shared. And then once again, the goodbyes are inevitable, inevitable. With tears. With young minds that don't understand the why of goodbyes. With older minds that understand but find it oh so hard to accept. With each hello, we now know there will be another goodbye. This makes the hellos difficult and the goodbyes a bittersweet tragedy.
We inch toward home, mile by mile, moment by moment, the distance far, the time dragging on. There is no excitement. There is nothing waiting to take the place of the smiles that filled the last bit of life. Sorrow fills the air like a strong arm around your neck, suffocating the life out of you.
But I know there will be a place of contentment. I know that even in the lack of happiness, joy can still exist. These things I have learned well this past year. These things I put my hope in: in contentment I will find Peace. In hope, a Companion of compassion.
We travel down the road and, as I brush glitter from my shirt, I comment that we have forgotten one item. Left back there behind us. A coffee press.
We will survive without it.
A few more miles. Another comment is made of something else left behind. I ask what it is. A toothbrush? A sock?
“A piece of your heart.”
Ah, yes. That's why it hurts so bad.
LI wonder if God felt that hole when Christ came to earth… Did a piece of His heart leave heaven?