sliding into the very functional and rather uncomfortable bench at the small town mexican restaurant on a hot august day last month, livie, who normally ran circles around the play area scooted in close to me.
lifting my arm to encircle her, she snuggled into my side and rested her hand on my leg.
more than anything, i wanted to place a couple of inches between us; the air conditioning wasn't reaching me and this was one of the hottest days of the summer.
but no matter where i moved, livie moved with me, her gaze fixed up on the ceiling.
"mama", she whispered. i leaned in closer, surprised more than anything else that she wasn't yelling at the full volume that is so typically her.
"mama, i wanna go up there", her pudgy finger pointing up at the flag covered ceiling.
"baby, we can't go up there", i whispered back, "there aren't any stairs."
"but mama!! i wanna go up there!!"
my baby's volume was returning. urgently.
she wiggled and wriggled for a few moments and then she relaxed into me once more.
patting my leg to capture my attention, she looked up into my face, eyes all livie-big, "mama, papa builds things in the clouds."
"he does, livs?"
"yes, mama, papa builds houses in the sky."
my breath caught in my throat. livie didn't know that her papa had built houses for a living.
"who told you that papa builds houses in the sky, livie?" i whispered back...
"papa did." she looked up again at the ceiling and tugged at my hand again, "mama, i wanna go up there...please."
today marks 9 months since you chose to leave us. the day that i wish i could run back to and tell you, before you walked out that door, how much your father heart meant to me. to tell you that i wish i had never taken your taking me in for granted. to tell you that being called your daughter was one of the greatest honors i had ever been given.
i wish that i had told you all those things before i no longer had the chance.
i wish that i could have told you how much we still needed you.
i don't know for sure what livie's conversation meant...if for a moment, Jesus allowed you to whisper words of hope to your sweet granddaughter. i don't know if it was a figment of a little girl's imagination...
what i do know, is that today, i miss you. i miss knowing that you are praying over each one of your children. i miss the comfort and security that came from knowing you were only a phone call away.
i wish, oh i wish, that you were still here...that our hearts weren't broken and that there were no wrestled-with questions.
but, if i can choose to find one thing to be thankful for, i will choose to be thankful for the One who promised to go before me and prepare a place for me. and if it just so happens that you just so happen to be helping to work on mine...i know it will be lovely and beautiful and solidly built.
if i can wade past the regrets, the endless questions and the "if onlys", i find myself blessed beyond measure. whether you knew it or not, by loving and accepting me as your daughter in the ways that you did, you showed me the Heart of my Heavenly Father. and for that, i will always, always be thankful.
i miss you...