I remember opening my arms and falling into waiting arms the night we arrived in that surreal safety net. The days ran together by then in what felt just like we stepped off earth and into another superhero galaxy.
My legs felt so long, heavy to lift and tired. Although I was tiny at 4 years old - I felt so tall. Towering over the world.
How do we measure the ache of longing? Time has hands that grasp us by the ankles. Diving into a deep blue sea of memories.
When we never get to the bottom no matter how deep we plumb. It's love that matters and treasures of truths unseen.
And it is in the morning as I write this - fast forward 30+ years.
I watch again a little part of me bound out of her room with too short jeans, too tight t-shirt, holey socks and chopped away hair. "Look Mom. Look at me! I grew. I'm 5!!" And instead of saying "Oh Azaelea you need to change..and let's do your hair" I just burst into a little dance with this little pixie to celebrate the wonders and joys of right now.
Last year (in May) we had an adventure. She looked me in the eyes - struggling to breathe. I knew it was urgent. It seemed hard to be careful not to speed, and then think positive in busy traffic. We arrived 2 hours later at the Children's Hospital. I had never been to Emergency there, and she could only breathe short gasps by then. "Hold me tighter please we need to run" I whispered. People were running with me through the parkade guiding us to the emergency doors. Then I tripped. Tripped through the doors, and landed with her secure in my arms on top of me.
I will tell you how this very moment was healing for me. An incredible turning point in my life's memory reel.
The nurses had her on a gurney with an X-ray machine, IV, and asthma meds through a mask in what felt like 90 seconds. Because you see: she was in a pediatric critical condition.
We stayed in quarantine for 4 days with a lot of progress.
It was in the middle of the night when nurses needed blood, her bed was wet, and meds were being transferred. She was so scared. When I just looked into her eyes and told her "I am so proud of you". Tears fell on her little body while she reached up to softly comfort 'me'. "I'll be ok. So will you, Mom."
She's intuitive already at this age. I see myself all over again in her. I scoop her up into my arms for an incredible embrace. The ones that she wraps her arms and legs around me so tight.. I squeeze right back. Put her on my lap and whisper "I love you" in her ear. Enjoying deep breaths of her morning hair. She'll stretch her arms out to the next person without letting me go. "Hug sandwich!"
Oh I know deep within me that these ordinary moments together are needed, and will be remembered far into the future.
In the dark of night whispers will remind me within my dreams. You know the ones? I remember being 'too small' and having nicknames that clung to my heart. But I'm older now and teaching our children the power of words. "So Mom when someone runs away how come you say (add emphatic hand gestures) Mom! Dad! Sweetheart! Son!" "Because they missed each other." I reply - as a matter of fact. There is no need to add the guilt or a question of "why on earth would you want to run away?"
She just seems to know already that everyone has a chance to be the prodigal child.
I'm starting to wonder what it would be like if I let go of those memories. That only have baggage attached. The tattered kind with the dog-eared books filling the cavity. Handles still hanging on by only one bolt. I'm starting to lean on the knowledge of *Honor your parents.* In my case it has been thoughts of - how do I do that? But the answer is in this prodigal lesson. In the innocence. --Go home.
Today I remember being 4 going on 5. I remember it all too well. But there seemed to be nothing to throws fits and bounds of joy towards.
I look back to that year of 4 years old. Starting to piece together where in history my foundation of parenting small children with big hearts actually exists. Watch my words. Open my arms and move forward. Is anything worth sacrificing joy?
So I keep learning this second time around. Because it is all a never ending story. A forward motion love. And I can look back with lighter baggage as I journey 'home.'