I stood at the stainless steel sink in the fellowship hall of the church this morning washing up the dishes from our leadership meeting. Tears slid down my face joining the warm water and soap suds.
Now don’t get any ideas. I wasn’t crying because it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m single. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, but this day holds other significance for me.
There’s a beautiful, little redheaded girl that I miss more than I can say, and today is her third birthday. I wanted to be with her today, kiss her soft cheeks, and tell her how much I love her.
Three years ago on this day, I could hardly fall asleep because we had received the call that a baby girl had been born, and in forty-eight hours, she would be mine to care for, for a season of time.
I have worked for New Horizons Ministries in Cañon City, Colorado for most of the last three years. Here our mission is to care for children and families in need and to minister to incarcerated youth and adults. I came to be a nanny to a little girl whose mother was behind bars. Little did I know then how changed my heart would be at the end of those two years of a crash course in motherhood and a step into the reality of how messy life can be.
When that baby arrived and I held her in my arms for the first time, I was immediately smitten. The intensity of the feelings that exploded in my chest surprised me. I knew I would love her, of course, but it happened almost instantly, and that’s the part that surprised me. Over the next two years, I experienced what it meant to be a mommy, and I loved it. Even with its many sleepless nights, hundreds of diapers to change, and chaos that reigned at the supper table. I am so incredibly grateful for that time in my life, and I’d do it all over again for that precious child.
It’s not like she isn’t part of my life anymore, but it’s different now. On special days like today, celebrations of milestones, the ache in my chest catches just so, and I lose my breath for a few seconds. Feelings turned physical, sadness at the edge of tangible.
But along with the sadness comes profound gratefulness. That I got to care for her for those two years; that my life is so rich because I’ve loved and lost and still love; that I still get to be part of her life. The Lord has answered my prayers for her in so many ways. She is happy and taken care of, and what more could I ask for?
I miss you, little one. Your fiery personality and your need to be in constant motion. Your deep brown eyes that sparkle when you grin. You in my arms, head on my shoulder.
The phone call helped and the “tour” of your room through the phone. But I miss you, and I’m starting to understand that I always will.
Happy Birthday, child of my heart. I love you so.