The heaping piles of stuffed animals, towering collections of Barbie dolls, and rising mountains of creations do not lend themselves to the belief that only one child does indeed live in this small house with us. Your eyes feast upon the piles, collections, and mountains and you think to yourself, surely they must have at least 4 children. Yes, it’s that bad.

Some psychology laden folks try to “help” us and cajole us into accepting that we are compensating for our sadness over just one little heart growing up, building memories with us. That we are trying to create an environment of many out of just one.  Make no mistake, we are sad. But we are hopeful. We know that another little heart will join us someday, somehow, by some means or another.

And I learned the other day that Maddie is not the only little heart growing up and building memories with us. She has sisters. Three of them in fact. I’ve known that she is close to her cousins for certain. They are nine, seven, and just turned five and we are soon to be five.  They might not share the same mom or even dad with my soon to be fiver, but they are sisters no less.

I saw this with such clarity when I received a text asking why I was such a “meanie.” A meanie of the worst variety for not bringing Maddie over to her cousins this weekend. They couldn’t possibly spend time at Grandma’s house without Maddie. So three bags, three cards, and what seemed like fourteen suitcases later we arrived at Grandma’s house and I lost my daughter to her sisters.

There they were hugging upon arrival. There they were immediately pouncing on the dress up clothes, planning some sort of show. There they were wrapped around each other like pretzels, pouring over the game in the corner of the gigantic sectional on that very hot day. There they were arguing over who was taller, when the answer was clear. There they were going to the oldest to decide. There they were whispering and giggling like two little old ladies. There they were. Sisters. In every sense that matters.

We may have just one in our house but we have so many more in our hearts and we are all building memories together.


Unapologetically Absent

There are varying shades of absent: absent in body to absent in mind. A smidgen of absence to an abundance of absence.

I’ve had my fair share of absences, as does everyone around me. But lately I have been thinking much about being the many shades of absent. Those that go far deeper than the ever mounting tallies of sick days recorded.

The gray day we are trying ever so hard to bring sunshine to. Whether we are remembering a loved one lost on an anniversary, a birthday, or any old day.  We are absent.

The germy day we are physically missing to attend to our ailments. We are absent.

The day we leave our hearts covered with germs at home and pretend to focus attention to our work. We are absent.

The day we are lucky enough to have a sliver of happiness to anticipate. The happier the potential, the more we fade from the present moment. We are absent.

The day we devote to our hearts building, coloring, playing. We are so present in the moment that lays before us. We are forever striving for this kind of day. To be there.

But still, to someone in some part of our life… We are absent.