Sometimes I catch myself in the ho-hum of my everyday craziness beginning to sweat the small things that really don’t matter in the light of eternity and it is often something that knocks me over the head like a “Tom and Jerry frying pan” moment that brings me to reality. I recently had an experience with a little girl that rocked my world for the rest of the day. It was around Mother’s Day and I was dropping Missy Moo off at her preschool. As she was settling her belongings into her locker, I noticed Jessie, a little girl who is sweet and a little quiet, hanging out in the hallway. As I approached her, I said hello and asked how she was doing. I always try to go out of my way to give her an extra smile because at the ripe old age of five, Jessie has already lost her mommy to cancer. She was “reading the hall” which is teacher-speak for reading the environmental print that surrounds her. She asked me several questions – “What does this say?” “Hooks” I would reply. “What does this say?” “Sarah” I replied. Next, she pointed to a picture that was leaning against another child’s locker, obviously created to present to his mommy on Mother’s Day. “What does this say?” Jessie asks, pointing to the word “Mom”. “It says ‘mom’, Jessie”, was my reply. Immediately, she stopped reading the hallway and went back to the classroom. Her joy of learning new words was over for the day. I hugged Missy Moo extra hard and scurried to the car with tears in my eyes. My tears were for this sweet child whose mommy was unfairly taken from her just too darn young. My heart aches for her and also her mother, who had to have been scared beyone measure to be leaving such young children behind. Truthfully, it is one of my worst nightmares behind losing one of my own children. I admit that it is selfish – I want to be the one to attend parent-teacher conferences, soccer games, ballet recitals, eighth grade graduation, and shop for prom dresses and tuxedos. I want to be the one they turn to when a friend has hurt their feelings, when they don’t make the school play, when they get cut from baseball, when they have their heart broken for the first time, when they fall down and have to pick themselves up. To know that this would not ever come to pass as I lay on my deathbed would be unbearable. I am confident as to where I will go when that time does come; however, the end part would be unfathomable. This also got me to thinking about what I would say to my children should I be taken suddenly, as we all know is always a possibility, given the fragility of the life we live on this side. I could write novels to each of them individually about what I want for them and advice on things I have learned through trial and error but here is what I would tell them:

I am with you always, always. You will see me when a Gerbera Daisy blooms in the spring, especially if it is hot-pink. I will eat popsicles or any other frozen sweet treat with you on a hot summer day. I will be with you when you open your report card and see all A’s. I will also be with you when you open your report card and see all F’s. It is not what you DO that makes me love each of you – my love for you is not based on performance. My love for you is based on you. You are deeply and intensely loved for the unique beings God created you to be. I will be with you when hormonal changes take over your body. I am there when the first fool, and fool they will be, breaks your heart. I will overjoy with you when you are chosen for something special like a play, a sporting team, a recital, an award. I will be there whispering “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, when you fail. And you will. I am there to encourage you to grow that “tough outer skin that is not too tough but tough-enough,” and I am there to tell you to soften just a bit. I will be there when you hear good live music. I will dance with you to “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. I will be there when you finish a great book that stirs you in a way that forces you to move or think outside of your comfort zone. I am with you on a summer evening with a good, crisp glass of Chardonnay or a margarita (of course, once you have turned 21 – I am still your mother after all…) I will be there with you telling you to add chips, salsa, con queso, and guacamole. I will tell you to wait for sex. I will tell you to please not abuse the beautiful shell you have been given with cigarettes or illegal drugs. I will be with you anytime you eat chocolate, especially Hershey’s Toffee Almond Nuggets. I will be with you on the first day of your first job when you are feeling insecure and maybe not really ready for this “real-world” thing. I will be with you when you walk down the aisle, when you have your first baby, when you realize how much you are really and truly loved. The love I have for you, my children, is not understandable until you have your own babies. As I say to you every night when I put you to bed, “I love you always, always. There is nothing you could ever do to make me not love you and you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” You are my joy. You are my love. You are never alone.

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