rushing across the hall to her room, i scooped her into my arms and onto my lap. i held her small body tight and breathed her name, "bella." i know this seems somewhat dramatic...even a bit over the top. clearly, i was over-reacting, but i couldn't bear the thought of some kind of undercurrent in her words, some kind of insecurity playing out with my three year old and her baby doll. this little girl abandoned at 6 months. this little girl orphaned for two years. if there was any doubt - any doubt at all - i wanted my arms around her to wipe it away. to push aside even the hint of a question hiding below her skin's surface. she is ours. we are hers. forever.
i realize this does not have the markings of a seasoned mother. i am, so often, too relaxed in my parenting style. so i kind of had to laugh a little at my afternoon melodrama. in all of my rushing and scooping, i clearly took my baby girl by surprise. the startled look on her face said, "what's going on mommy? what's all this about? what are you doing?" if she had been a few years closer to teen, she might even have wiggled free from my grasp with an exasperated, "stop it, mom!"
but i hugged her hard, and with her small frame folded into me, i whispered, "can i tell you a secret?" (bella loves secrets). she didn't hesitate, "yes!" and holding her close with my lips to her ear, i continued my mother-whisper, "bella, i will always be right here. mommy will always be right back. i love you. forever."
there was a time, when the cancer first came, where i wondered whether i'd be able to promise such things. i was so scared it might not be the case. i had never faced my mortality in such uncertain light. the older children asked in the vulnerable late hours of evening, "are you going to be okay? are you going to get better?" and even one child had the courage to ask through her tears one night, "mama, are you going to die from this?" i spent some time wondering all of that myself. cancer is harsh and early in the diagnosis we just didn't know what we'd be dealing with. we found ourselves afraid of the future. afraid of forever.
i know as a parent i can make no promises to my children. we don't know the number of days...hours...minutes. there is no contract set in writing. there are no guarantees any of us will live to see our children graduate college or walk a wedding aisle or hold a first born. i pray it is so. i want to be intimately involved in all of these milestones for each of my children, but cancer or no cancer, i cannot promise my kids this is the case. we don't know.
"show me, o Lord, my life's end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life." ~ psalm 39:4
and we all want that assurance, don't we? not one of us wants to be left alone, left behind or forgotten. Jesus, before the events of His death were even in motion, knew His disciples needed great comfort...needed reassurance. and so our tender God took the time to pull them aside and pull them close to Him. He took the time to encourage them with this promise:
"and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take
you to be with me that you also may be where I am." ~ john 14:3
He knew their weakness and fears and confusion. He knows ours. "I will come back and take you to be with me..." He, too, hears us across the hall in our wondering and hoping. He knows we aren't always sure -- but He wants us to be. we might not have assurance of our life here on earth, but if we belong to Him, we can be sure of our future. we can be sure He will "be right back." He desires us to know just how much He has planned and prepared for us. He longs for us to know just how much He loves us. and so He whispers...
"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." ~ john 14:18