In the growing up and the knowing more, you realize that life isn’t really about figuring it out. That maybe it’s more about just going through it, together, with everyone else who is doing the same. Sharing in the good and the bad. The heavy and the light. And, the heavy light.
I sit on my mother’s couch, in her one bedroom apartment, reading my devotional, waiting for my sleeping daughter to wake. We are four days away from moving into my next new beginning, the home I aim to create for my sweet daughter and I. I read, I reflect on the things that I’m thankful for. I start my day with positive intention. But, my thoughts wander, as they do some mornings, to the people who are struggling to survive. The ones without the things that I am thanking Him for. What about those without power? Without water? Without the hope for health? The ones walking the cancer battles with their family now? What about those who simply never experience the feeling of safety? The ones living despite ISIS? The people who live out our nightmares? How do we help them? What can we do?
Austyn’s cries of “Momma” from the next room interrupt my thoughts. I push them aside. And I smile. She needs me and I can give her safety and warm fuzzy feelings. Though I sometimes feel desperate for others that I can’t help, I know what I can do, right now. I can help her.
As I lift my smiling girl out of her makeshift bedroom at Nama’s (which is a crib in a walk-in closet, exactly) she immediately requests the thing that she needs most in the moment. “Momma!” She uses her hands to make sure my eyes find hers. “Nack?” (“Nack” means “Snack”.) I assure her, a snack is most assuredly waiting. And, it’s called breakfast, in fact. Momma made oatmeal.
I lie her down to change her (I hope to start potty-training soon, and there is actually a chance that I will miss this bit of her dependence on me). Once I finish, I lightly touch her side, where she’s the most ticklish, to see if she might be in the mood for a giggle or two. The room erupts with her contagious and beautiful laughter. Light seems to explode from her and fill the room, and the sounds are heaven. She sparkles. I can’t bear to let this moment pass.
If I can give my girl this much joy, with just one touch, I will stretch this moment until it becomes too thin. So, I nuzzle my face into her side. Her laughter bounces, echoes, she squirms and she loves it. Suddenly, there are tears pouring from my eyes. I am overflowing. I am laughing, but I am crying. The joy is light… and it is very unbearably heavy sometimes.
We get up and make our way to the kitchen. She, a giggling mess. Me attempting, quite poorly, not to confuse her with the conflicting emotions so evident on my face.
Her easy laughter reminds me so much of Nick. So much of the joy that lived inside him. Right under the surface. Easy and sure and ready to break free at a moment’s notice. I think that joy lives in each of us. Sometimes, we just have to dig a little deeper to find it. And, sometimes, we need someone else to coax it out of us… Sometimes it only takes one word. Sometimes it only takes one touch.
The adventure that is this life stretches ahead of us. Austyn’s virus that added a fever to her asthma is gone now. She is healthy. I am healthy. We walk ahead, not alone. With God in every movement, every breath, every sigh. He is here. He is in the light. In the heavy. He is in the laughter. And, the tears. And, I know that Nick’s in it all a little bit too. Those we love, truly, don’t ever really leave.