Rhema’s not particularly big on greetings and good-byes. She may not acknowledge you when you arrive and she does not show any emotion when you leave. When I eagerly pick her up at school, she gets up and runs… past me. =)
Getting a “Hi” (or “Bye”) out of her often requires getting in her line of sight and saying “Hi” repeatedly. But the moment she glances at me, the moment she connects and says clear as day “Hi.”, it’s sweeter and warmer than fried dough with sugar and cinnamon at the county fair. Never gets old.
(Learning to wave with the Hi and Bye is a current goal on her IEP. Imagine the day!)
When I come home after a long day I can’t describe the relief and joy of being close to my girls again. Hope never fails to cheer and yell my name like I’ve been gone for years. She attacks me with koala bear hugs and stories about her scratched knee and itchy finger. It’s the best.
I often find Rhema sitting at the kitchen table or in the living room seemingly oblivious to Hope’s noisy greeting.
Without a word she walks over to me, takes my hand and leads me to the refrigerator.
I take out the shredded cheese, put some on a napkin for her, and she gobbles it up.
So maybe I look like Rosie the Robot-maid from the Jetson’s. Maybe it’s not the warmest salutation in the world, this cheesey hello. But it’s ours, just ours.
Last night I wanted to run to the craft store. It was already 8 pm, the store closed at 9 and Brandon was going to put the girls to bed. I didn’t want to miss the bed time routine – I’d missed the night before due to working late – but I really needed to get to the store. I was halfway down the basement stairs when I turned to say goodnight one more time. And then time stood still.
Rhema was staring at me, her huge brown eyes looking right into mine. Beautiful, bold eye contact. And she almost seemed to reach out to me.
I came back up the stairs and breathed her name: Rhema.
She took my arm and drew me through the door, her eyes never leaving mine. Brandon and Hope were there observing the whole exchange.
“B,” I whispered. “Do you see this? She wants me to stay. She misses me!”
He nodded. It was the first time I could remember her ever expressing an opinion about my coming or going.
Still holding on to me, she closed the door with her free hand as if to say you’re staying here, woman.
Be still my heart.
I knew I would go wherever she wanted to take me. The stores could close, the seasons could change, the Red Sox could actually win, but nothing could pull me away from her, from the moment.
That’s when she led me to the refrigerator. And gently, yet firmly, put my hand on the door handle.
I heard the record scratching sound effect and, in the background, Brandon guffawing.
And then I laughed and couldn’t stop.
Because in a thousand ways, Rhema makes me feel special.
I like to think she thinks,
Cheese on my napkin. Mommy’s home. The world is all right with me.