Brooke at my office on Christmas Eve
Please, please, please (pretty please?) click HERE before continuing. I’m begging. The rest of this post will have no meaning without the context. Go. I promise I’ll be here when you get back.
On Monday night, I told Brooke that I had to go to work on Christmas Eve.
Her face contorted into a mask of worry, disappointment and fear. “Nooooo!” she yelped. “You won’t go.”
It would be a half day, I assured her. I promised that I’d be home by 2.
“Will you be with us on Christmas?” she asked.
The question was so, well, typical, I almost didn’t know what to do with it.
“Of course I will, baby,” I said as I pulled her into me for a squeeze. “I’d never be away from you on Christmas.”
Later that evening, as we sat down to dinner, the subject came up again. Katie wanted to know what time I’d be home. She’d already sheepishly admitted that she’d rather not come into work with me this time, as she had in the past at every opportunity. As soon as she was old enough to ask, she asked. Every holiday, every half day, any and every chance she had, she came to work with Mama.
Her sister was different.
“I want to come with you,” she said. The words were soft, quiet, carefully measured. And they took my breath away.
“You do?” I asked.
“Uh huh,” she said. “Can I come with you?”
I stumbled over my words. I didn’t know how it could work. What if she needed to leave in the middle of the day? What if she lasted an hour and was simply done? What would I do?
“Honey, I would LOVE that,” I said, “but why don’t we wait until another time when we don’t have guests with us so that Daddy can come get you if you need to go home?” My heart hurt saying the words, but I refused to set her up for failure. Not when it meant this much.
Luau jumped in. “Do it,” he said. “We’ll figure it out. If she needs to come home, we’ll get her.”
I used to think that romance was delivered by florists or hidden inside the black velvet of jewelery boxes. I know better now.
Later that night, after reading the second to last of the advent stories, I told Brooke it was time for bed. I followed her up the stairs and sent her in to her room to get into her PJs, then went into my room. Moments later, I bumped into her walking out of her room as I walked in. Her arms were full with dolls and stuffed characters, topped off by her favorite blanket. “Where ya goin’, kiddo?” I asked.
“To your room,” she said, “to sleep. I’m going to work with you.”
I told her that we were going to sleep in our own rooms, but that I would be in first thing in the morning to wake her up for our commute. “Okay,” she said, “but I have to tell my daughters.” And with that, she pulled out each doll and stuffed animal one by one and said, “I know you feel worried, Prairie dawn, but Mama has to go to work tomorrow. I promise I’ll be home for you later. Don’t be scared, Tasha, Mama just has to go to work, but I’ll be home before you know it.”
One by one, she told her dolls not to be afraid. One by one, she assured them that she would be back. One by one, she told her Mama, in her way, how she felt. One by one, she broke and mended her Mama’s heart.
When she was done talking to all of her daughters, she tucked them into bed. With tears still streaming down my face, I did the same for mine.
Yesterday morning, Brooke came into work with me. I carried a bag full of distractions – her royal friends, magic markers, coloring books, and of course her iPad. She unpacked her royal friends and watched Godpsell on the iPad for a while, but nothing held as much allure as the white board. The one that had served as the open door. The one that was enough. (Hey, I asked you to click on the link. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, it’s still there, waiting.)
Around eleven o’clock, she began to struggle. I asked if she wanted me to call Luau to come and get her. “No,” she said,” as she climbed into my lap. I would stay here with you. Because I love you.”
At one o’clock, we closed up shop and left for the day. And as we walked through the city back to my car, hand in hand, it was all I could do not to shout to everyone we passed, “This, my friends … THIS is my Christmas miracle.”
Wishing you and yours the Merriest of Christmases, or, a very happy Wednesday.