People say the year is going by fast. In some ways, I suppose. But as another season goes and a new one creeps in, it feels like the husband/father here has been away a long, long time. I no longer count the days, I can only focus on the day I’m living. But babies are being born and it’s a funny way I mark the time. I think, she wasn’t even pregnant yet when you left. So much happens in a year.
Even though the technology is so much improved, we still find communication difficult. You ask, how are the girls? I say, fine. You say, what? I say, I said ‘fine’.
I don’t mention that seven has been good to Hope. She lost her baby front teeth and got these huge crooked incisors in their place. I tried to take lots of pictures during the time she was missing those front teeth – I knew it was a precious piece of childhood that would pass too quickly. She has grown so much, but don’t worry she’s not changed where it counts. She still has that sparkle in her eyes. Still kind and wise.
Still bursting with enthusiasm over everything from broccoli for dinner to sparkly shoes and Bible memory verses. When I tell her to clean up, she bounces and twirls from the table to the sink. She talks so much that tooth-brushing is a problem because she has to slow down her talking while brushing. She never leaves home without the stuffed bear you sent her for Christmas. I often have to give her instructions more than once but it’s because she’s a dreamer and her mind is racing. She’s not afraid to be creative and she’s usually up early working one of her many projects… like the basket o’ love she put on my door and daily fills with handwritten notes and loom bracelets just for me. Her “merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” She is my helper and my friend. She teaches tired me that love is joyful, and I want to love like that.
As for Rhema… will I ever be able to capture with words all that life is with Rhema? And her ways, oh her ways, that always cause me to marvel or chuckle because I never would have seen it, heard it, thought it, tasted it or done it the way she does every time. I love that when I put her in the shower she stands there with her mouth wide open gulping down all the hot water or how she dips her Necco wafers in ketchup and brushes the sink with her toothbrush and throws all our plates, spoons and mugs in the trash can. She always leaves me thoughtful.
A couple of weeks ago the school nurse sent us home with ice packs because she’d bitten her arms so badly they were bruised and swollen. I studied those arms, I kissed those arms and applied ice but I still could not understand how and why she could hurt herself so badly. Her pain and frustration run so deep some days and I find myself begging God to show me any way I can lift her burden.
That night was filled with her screaming and thrashing and me hoping the sleeping meds would finally kick in and bring relief. When the screaming died down I went in her room, and honestly I checked for blood. Found clumps of her hair littering the bed. I picked them up and my heart off the floor. Closed the door to her screams.
The next day when at a park she bit me good, my instinct was to fight, to yell Why?!
On the hard days maybe the hardest thing to do is to resist the sinking.
I put the girls in the van, loaded their bikes in the trunk and sat on the bumper trying to figure out how to go on. I sat there for the longest time because I didn’t have the courage to get in that van and keep going. God give me strength to keep on trying, keep on mothering, keep on loving even when I don’t know how. Somehow, He did.
How we appreciate the good days! Often the best moments for us are at bedtime. It’s like Rhema saves them for us, for that time. Sometimes it’s just the gift of her beautiful eyes gazing into mine. Every now and then she’ll echo back ‘Nigh. Nigh.’ One night she told me she loved me. I know it. The sounds from her mouth cannot be represented with the letters on this keyboard, but I know that’s what she was telling me. I’m so thankful she teaches me that love is holding on. That God never lets go even when we bite and fight and scream, especially then. That the dark moments won’t last always; new will come in with the light.