Last night, I came home late from work. As I pulled into the garage, the door to the basement opened as if by itself. There was no one in the doorway.
I sing-songed, “Who’s there?”
There was no answer.
As I got closer, I saw Brooke’s head sticking out from behind the door.
“Well, hello, little one!” I said, excited if not a little surprised to see her standing there.
“Hello, Mom” she said, just before running up the stairs and out of sight.
I called her back for what amounted to a perfunctory hug and sent her off on her way, back to finish her latest drawing in front of the TV.
After greeting Luau and Katie, changing my clothes and grabbing a plate from the kitchen, I joined Brooke in the den. I sat on the kid-sized chair next to her and dug into my dinner. The only noise in the room was coming from the TV. “Ya Da Da Da!” Elmo yelled.
And then it happened.
Out of nowhere, my girl kissed me. She stopped drawing, stopped watching Elmo, stopped everything else she was doing and thinking and feeling just long enough to plant the sweetest kiss on the universe on my cheek. And then, as if it never happened, she went back to what she’d been doing.
This morning, I woke up thinking about that kiss. Thinking about how far we’d come – both of us. And I remembered a post I’d written a lifetime ago. Not quite three years ago, yet a lifetime.
I searched for it this morning, using the one word that I knew that it contained – ‘restraint’.
I read it this morning and knew immediately that I needed to share it. Because if you’re still living there, you need to know.
That kiss – in whatever form it may take – is waiting.
The Hardest Thing ~ Originally published Feb, 2009
Restraint is not me.
It sits like an anvil on my chest, squeezing the air out of my lungs.
It reminds me, admonishes me.
Approach slowly, gingerly – lest she run.
Every day, I fight to neutralize every molecule of my being, wrestling with my very nature.
Restraint is not me.
It runs contrary to everything I am.
My love for my girls is a vast, wild, physical force.
It is not quiet or calm or tame.
It can be soft and gentle, but at its core it is fierce and messy and loud.
I hate being away from my girls.
I miss them every day.
The separation from them burns. I feel it on my skin, in the dull ache in my gut.
As I pull into the garage every night, the anticipation begins to build.
My heart beats faster as I reach the basement steps.
I can feel them.
I can’t wait to squeeze them, to kiss them, to inhale them.
I live for their sweet smell, their soft skin, their laughter. Oh, the laughter!
I want to bound up the stairs in a cloud of electric energy, scream their names, scoop them up in my arms.
Katie waits for me at the top of the stairs. We drink each other in.
Strong, potent, unfiltered.
Brooke is nowhere to be seen.
I stealthily, carefully hunt her down.
I quietly sing-song, ‘Where’s my baby girl?”
A tiny voice repeats a long-practiced “Here I am.”
I reach her.
She doesn’t move.
I move closer, crouch in front of her, consciously smiling.
Fighting the overwhelming, visceral urge to grab her.
“I missed you today, little love.”
“I did. May I have a hug, sweet girl?”
I work my way in.
Finally I squeeze her. We laugh.
I brush away a tear as I head upstairs to shed my work clothes.
The fight is exhausting.
I just want to love her.
Nearly three years later, I see what I couldn’t then. Loving her was exactly what I was doing.