Breaking Place

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I lean in and kiss the top of her salt and pepper head. She is so petite, so beautiful. Age agrees with her. She will protest such a comment but I tell her anyway. “You are so beautiful my dear sweet Mimi.” She shrugs and laughs and disagrees but I see her smile as she leans in for another hug. These arms feel like home. They are the arms that raised my mommy. They held my tiny newborn body and rocked me under the Arizona stars while she sang sweet lullabies. They’ve now held my babies too, and rocked them to the same sweet lullabies. These arms are tired now, weaker, but still full of love for me. Full of love for me even when for a brief second she looks at me as though she is looking through me, not really seeing me or seeing me but not quite sure of who I am. I hug her and don’t want to let go. Maybe if I hug her hard enough, long enough I will squeeze the memories back into her. I squeeze her tightly until she pulls away and I am breaking and breathless.

Breathless…not in that oh-my-stars-so-beautiful-it-takes-my-breath-away kind of way. Breathless because every last molecule of life-sustaining air is emptied from my lungs.  The present moment ripped away from my perception. Heartsick. Frozen. In a blink I am back in that place. The place-less space where moments pass and time ticks by and yet my mind, my soul are helplessly unaware, heedless of the when and where and who is speaking. Voices sound. Words are spoken. “Moderate to severe.” “One good year left.” “You and the babies bring out the best in her.” “Not much left.” Some part of me hears them. They are trying to get in, to worm their way down to that soul level where they can make their mark, deep digging marks that wound and deliver another message of pain, of suffering, of loss impending. I HATE this place. My soul knows…this place will hurt and rip and tear and bend my inmost being. This place begs me to open the door to doubt, to allow suffering to callous the precious softness that God has been molding and shaping in my heart. This is the sooty visceral place of the breaking point.

Not wanting these dear loved ones to have the added pain of the weight of another broken heart, I am choking on the inside, hiding tears and truth and anger behind a furrowed brow and slightly upturned smile. They know. We all know, but we silently agree that the emotions of the moment will remain inside. Not one us can handle this new heaviness. The heaviness of Papa’s death is still thick upon our hearts and minds. We are still journeying through the sacred suffering, sorrow that is weaving with hope into a sacred healing. We still ache as we share stories, memories of that amazing man. Our stories, our memories connect us and bind our pain and bring us together in the healing. We cling to him in this way and ache and long to see him again in heaven. But now, his precious wife of over fifty years, she is unable to cling. She tries and struggles and we watch and wait while her words don’t come. She just repeats over and over again, “He sure did love all you kids.”

I do not feel ready for this. Grieving, mourning, breaking, mending; the cycle is starting again. As we approach the door she waves goodbye and says matter of factly, “I hope I see you again, but I may not.” I am not ready for this. I pray one word, “Jesus.” I steal another hug and kiss and with fierceness and unending love I almost growl at her, “I LOVE YOU! Do you know that? I LOVE YOU!” I am not ready for this. I will never be ready for this. But… He is. I don’t how we’ll make it through. But…He does. He has gone before me. He is going before her. He is going before each of us. And He is here now with me. He is with us in the muck and ick and grief and ache, in our breathless moments. He is right here with me in this breaking place and He will not leave me here. He will bring me through. He will bring us through.

Long

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The days have been long. LONG. Weary yet wired, too many cups of coffee, my husband ate the last brownie…kind of long. And full. Full of the good and the hard and the beautiful. Spilling over with broken and messy and enchanting. Full of toothless baby smiles and sticky toddler kisses, flat tires and broken ovens, cuddles and all night coughing fits. Time is passing and my heart is swelling, aching, overflowing as the love in our little family grows each day. Extravagant, complicated love that is growing in the rich soil of hard moments and sleepless nights, in tantrums and giggle fits and endless stinky piles of laundry.

It is a profound love that comes easily and yet it is not an easy love. It is hard work. I am worn and frayed and easily angered these days and increasingly aware of just how selfish I am.  I dream of home cooked meals and freshly pressed suits for my hubby, of kind smiles and gentle words as I instruct my littles. I dream of actually getting dressed and maybe, just maybe leaving the house. I wish that my tone of voice were more sweetness and light and less bedraggled-barking-seal. I desperately want to be patient with my sweet little blessings. Really, truly I do. But why, oh why is ‘WHY?’ dear sweet toddler’s favorite word these days? He is cute and loud and dedicated and stubborn and controlling. My little mirror, he is exceedingly like his momma. It is precious (and irritating). And when, oh when will dear sweet baby sleep at night…like for more than two hours without having to be nursed and rocked and soothed back to sleep while mommy cries? It’s often through bleary eyes I see most clearly. These long, full days (and nights) are packed with goodness, with grace, and with the stretching, growing love of Jesus. I breathe in this truth and breathe out my weariness and accept the gift of a sacred late night meeting with my truest Love. And I pray.

I pray and ask Him to love my precious little tribe through me. I ask Him to stir their souls and tug at their hearts and show them His perfect love each day as I surrender myself and my plan to His. I pray that they would see Him and His great love for them in the way their mommy lives out this motherhood calling. I pray that He would remind me each day that they are a treasure and a reward. They are a way He shows His love for me, like handpicked wild flowers, a beautiful bouquet from the Lover of my soul. I will carry this picture with me into the new day. I will see my gorgeous growing boys, and my dear sweet husband through His eyes. With His help I will choose calm and kind and gentle today. I will protect and trust and hope and persevere today. Not in my own strength but in His. I will fiercely guard my own heart so that they may have the best of me. I will not be enough. But I will point them to the One who is.  I will fall short. But I will point them to the One who never fails.

The days are long. And I am glad. Someday I will look back and they will not have been long enough. I pray I will cherish every.single.minute.