We snuck out on Winter break, myself and my 2 sweet kids, for a late-night walk around the neighbourhood with sparkling lights glistening all around us, welcoming us down the streets. Walked like we’ve done our whole lives together. The same, but different all at once.
Like nothing has changed, but everything has changed.
I’m in the middle, my arms entwined with theirs. Holding on tight to them both, I feel content and filled with happiness with my greatest life joys surrounding me. On one side, the always-determined one that arrived on the plane, making a long journey with his beautiful wife and new little baby boy, infusing our home with life and light after our dark season of loss. Bringing hope and healing back to my weary heart. On my other side, balancing me out, linked tight and close like we’ve been her whole life – my sweet-one about to move on, getting ready to start a new married life in just 4 short months. Collecting home treasures in totes piling outside her door, the excitement of all things new as she prepares for the journey ahead. Sifting through those little girl things, deciding what to take and what to leave behind. Ready to make her own home and life.
And I stand between them, and I hold on with all that I have. I close my eyes for a minute, and I remember all the times we have walked together. Hand in hand, down these same paths. All our seasons flash before me and it’s like I can feel the sweaty-sticky little fingers, hear the sing-songy voices as I chased after the wobbly scooters, helped with the heavy backpacks and went on park adventures as we did life together all through these streets.
I’d give anything to go back. Just for a day or an hour. I’d drink it all in. I’d ignore how tired I was and forget my frustrated moments and longings for quiet time. I’d hold each second like it was my greatest treasure, and remember that one day they won’t need me the same. Nothing would be wished away; I’d live the days with pure abandon. Wouldn’t we all if we’d realized how much things would change? It’s good we don’t fully know in those moments, because it would be unbearable to see any of the days finish.
We’d never sleep, in hopes that the clock wouldn’t change into another day.
So, we walk together on that crisp holiday night. And they talk, and I listen, and I savour each moment with their arms wrapped in mine. And I realize that things will never be the same. That soon, I’ll be sitting at the table with my loving husband, and it will just be the two of us. How we started all those year ago with full hearts, bleary-eyed with love. Full circle. We began sitting alone, and we’ll do the same again – but in between is a lifetime of love and our family that we won’t ever let go, forget, or move on from.
The greatest thing we ever did in our life was them.
Babies grow up. Families change. And it hurts a little, but it also brings joy. And it’s the wonder of it all to learn how to love and let go. How to loosen your grip and see them leave without your heart shattering all over the ground into a million broken pieces.
But you must.
And as you reflect on the seasons of life that you’ve just come through you know that someday, you too will just be a memory and a story that’s told.
So you keep working on making that story meaningful. Through all your imperfections, mistakes and often less-than ideal living you keep doing the very best that you can.
“I hope you always remember how much your mom loved you,” I whisper through my tears to them. And we cuddle together, our little life-long trio walking through our old familiar streets. So much life lived together that will never be forgotten, even though we can’t ever go back.
We move ahead. Because that’s what life requires of us.
And I pray silently as we laugh through the night, that they both would never forget this sparkling walk with their mama, holding on tight.
Loving them always, through all of their life.