Some days with my little girl are so refreshing because she doesn't know that the little things really are the biggest. She doesn't know that sitting on her Frozen blanket on the back patio during this surprisingly beautiful day while she munches on cheese and crackers and yells "This is the BEST PICNIC EVER!!!" is healing pieces of my soul. She just knows its fun and that I'm happy and it breaks my heart and fills it at the same time because she knows it really matters that I'm happy. She's seen me sad. She's seen me broken. She's seen way too much for a 3 year old little girl and still there's so much more I'll have to tell her one day.
She asks about him often. The beautiful thing about a child her age is the way she processes this great loss in her life. It's not all at once. It's not even every day or every week. It comes and goes. But when it comes it comes hard. It comes like this.... she starts humming a song that she doesn't really know but she likes it. It turns out to be "Hush Little Baby" and as I start to fill in the words for her she cries. She cries because sometimes songs that she knows are lullabies and books about babies hit her where it really hurts... and she misses him. The tiny little baby brother that she barely got to know. She misses him deeply. And she asks the hard questions. The ones I have no answers for. The ones that say "Why isn't he ever coming back?" She says things like "But I don't want Noah to live in Heaven" and every single part of me breaks. Because I DON'T EITHER. So I tell her I know and that I love her and that Jesus loves her and he loves Noah... and that Noah's okay... better than okay where he is. And I promise her with all of me that one day we'll see him again. And I see the light glimmer in her eyes and the hope dance in her soul and I know that even that sentence alone crushes me. Because there's only one way to get to Heaven and in all honestly I can't handle the thought of that right now. So I whisper my prayer to God to please not let that be until we're old and gray. One day... but no time soon. It's all such a hard mess sometimes.
It's incredible though because it's been almost year since he left us and she still remembers so much. Her memory is such a blessing to me. She remembers things about him like it was yesterday. Of course I do too but her memories are not full of sadness like mine are. They are full of joy and love and all things baby related. She speaks in present tense when she shares her memories and they touch the places in my heart that need to be touched even when tears are the result. I hope she always remembers him because soon she'll have a new baby brother. She's moved on from being bummed because she really wanted a sister to dress up like a baby doll to being so proud. She says "Mommy, do you know that now I have two baby brothers?!" and that bittersweet pang comes over me again. Yes, she has two baby brothers. I have two sons. Both of them feel so far away though sometimes. Even though one bounces around in my belly... I have lost all innocence and I know even though he is fully mine, he is also fully God's. And my mantra rolls off of my lips again... "I don't understand, Lord, but I trust you and I'm so thankful that I get to be their mommy."
Today I accidentally threw one of my dog's ropes into the tree. It's too high up for me to reach and the tree branch is too sturdy for me to shake it down. There were three other toys right next to him in the grass but he wanted the rope in the tree. The unreachable one. The one that he just couldn't have anymore. He barked and cried relentlessly, with no intention of giving up on the hope that his rope would be recovered. I just watched him and it felt so strangely familiar to me. It felt like me in the early months after losing Noah. It felt like watching myself beg God to just give him back to me. I didn't want anything else. I could barely see anything else around me. It's hard to see where I was and where I am now. It's hard because those early memories are so painful but it's also hard because because I sometimes feel so far removed from it now. I continue to watch him and he finally gives up on it, but rather than slump away defeated he runs in the other direction to the other toy that he loves equally as much. And I hope I'm doing the same but sometimes I'm not sure. Sometimes it all feels like defeat. It feels like maybe I just didn't have a choice but to move forward. I never want to feel like I'm leaving him behind because I'm not... he is in every step I make. He's the very beat of my heart. He's never lost to me but he is so unreachable.
Time passes and you just realize that you can scream and fight hopelessly or you can stop and look around at everything else you have. The sun still shines even when you don't understand how it could. The laughter still fills your home with the sound of the voice that you loved the most in the world before the little boy with the perfect lips came along and tied up the place in your heart for the little one you love the most. Life is still so beautiful and so good. So you stop and you run in the other direction... never forgetting for a second about the rope in the tree... You run with arms wide open to the blessings around you. You choose joy. You choose to continue to see the good. Noah will still be there when the time comes for me to go to him. But she's here now... and there's a little boy growing inside of me... and above all else, I trust Him. Sometimes thats all you can do. Even when it feels like the littlest step, you realize God says that in His eyes that little step toward Him, toward joy, is the really big stuff.