Once in a while I get hit with a brief but powerful wave of grief and longing. Usually this happens at night. Tonight it hit a few minutes ago.
Lauren took an extra long and late nap so she was having trouble sleeping. I was rocking with her downstairs when I heard Noble crying for a midnight snack. I sent Lauren to bed to wait for me and took care of Noble. The feeling started as I was nursing Noble. It just wasn't so long ago that I was nursing Camille. 15 months just isn't that long ago.
Then when I had him asleep, I went to snuggle Lauren. Lying in bed with her surrounded by her big sisters, the absence of the fourth sister hits me. Here are all my girls in one room. Well, all but one. Somehow the absence of that one little sleeping girl seems so huge.
I talk to Lauren as we snuggle. I tell her that I love Sabrina and Annie and Camille and her. She says, "I love Camille too." She then tells me that she misses Camille only when she sees her on a video and just sometimes when she doesn't see the video too. I tell her I miss Camille every day and a lot.
"And every night?" she asks. "Yes, and every night too." I reply. Then I ask "Is it okay if I miss Camille?" I want to know what she thinks about this. All this while I am not crying. I feel the tears threatening but my voice is even and calm.
"No," she responds. "I don't want you to miss Camille because I don't want you to be sad."
I have no response to that. She gives me a hug and I hug her back.
A few minutes later in my own room getting ready for bed I think deeper about the words from my four year old. I have heard similar responses from my other kids and other people who love me and don't like to see me sad. I wonder how Camille would respond to the same question if I had posed it to her.
Immediately I feel as though Lauren had spoken for her. Camille would have said the same thing. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is just a temporary separation. It is as if she is away on a mission or at a really long camp and while we miss each other it is just easier to forget the missing and get to work making the best of the day in front of you. We will have eternity to spend together someday but today we are better off making the most of the present.
It is a hard pill to swallow. But for Camille's sake I am going to renew my efforts to miss less, be sad less, and try to maximize my today while it is still here.