You all know how much I love our family pictures.
They capture us. Who we are. A rowdy, loud, silly, woefully imperfect bunch bound together by love.
We are a sloppy kisses, tight hugs every 2.7 minutes kind of crew. I might yell and even lock myself in the bathroom for just. one. second. of quiet., but a little cheek cannot whiz past without a quick catch, swing them around, planting a big one on their face (wherever my lips may land…eyeball, ear, forehead), and then released to the debauchery they were headed to…all in one fluid motion.
I’ll eat you up, I love you so. All day every day.
But you know what else I noticed immediately from our pictures?
Man, I got old.
If you look at the pictures we took 5 years ago, and then at the latest set, you can’t miss it.
There are visible wrinkles around my eyes.
The lines around my mouth are deeper.
Even Andy has a whole lot of gray peppered in his hair.
We just look…tired.
Happy. But tired.
I know it’s been five years…so OF COURSE anyone is going to look older. OF COURSE.
I don’t care. Truly, I don’t. I care about a lot of things (many of them vain), but I really don’t care about the wrinkles. But I certainly noticed them. And I couldn’t help but think: ‘I know it’s been five years, but dang.‘
And then, just a few days after we got the pictures back, I was sitting in an emergency room with my girl. She was seizing. And it was going on two hours. Doctors were prepping to intubate her. Give her heavier duty drugs. Drugs that could make her stop breathing. Stop seizing hopefully, but also stop breathing. Balancing acts all around.
They were gathering the paperwork for an emergency transfer. I was texting the husband every few minutes. Keeping him up to date. Coordinating with friends, neighbors, and relatives to care for the other three. Juggling.
And as I stroked her silky blonde, whispering that I missed her and mama wanted to play, please come home…a thought bubble.
This is why, Jeannett. Of course you look older. Of course there are wrinkles of worry that line your forehead. How could there not be?
And I kissed her sweet forehead as doctors scratched their heads and checked on her with increasing concern, and I thought ‘Yes. More worry. But more kisses too.”
Five years ago, we hadn’t walked the halls of UCLA with a not yet 2 year old having heart surgery.
Five years ago, we hadn’t gotten the shocking news of not one, but two babies in the belly.
Five years ago, we hadn’t known a single thing about cerebral palsy or epilepsy.
Five years ago, we hadn’t filled our home with four big personalities in rapid succession.
But it’s not just the bad stuff. The scary stuff. The crazy stuff. The stuff of stories and blog posts.
Lines etched deep around my lips are worn through from kissing tear washed cheeks and hot foreheads. The grooves dug deeper with every newborn scented head that cannot go more than a few seconds without a kiss and a deep inhale. Remember this. Don’t forget this new baby smell and this impossibly soft suit of skin. Memorize the curves and the sweetest of grunts and the two armed stretches pulled way over heads. Legs pulled up tight. Four times over. Four gloriously sleep deprived times.
Of course you’re going to have lines around your lips Jeannett.
The grooves waving from around my eyes like a firecracker are dug with years of laughter. Silly songs and nursery rhymes with words jumbled in the most innocent of ways. Dance parties in the kitchen. Little girls dressed in sparkly gowns. Mischief and mayhem at every turn from the littlest of porkchops, all with a smile. Tickle sessions in mama and daddy’s bed on lazy Saturday mornings. The mornings we pack up the crew and splurge on sugar coated donuts and then wear circles into the street from the pink and blue streaming from bike handles.
Of course you’re going to have wrinkles around your eyes, Jeannett.
The rivers and valleys that make up my forehead are built on silly monster faces and answering all manner of 6 year old questions. Complicated, thank you Jesus for Google and YouTube questions. The putting together of shiny new bikes late into the night on Christmas Eve. The missing shoes, oh the missing shoes! The decisions, big and small. Which school, brand of peanut butter, just which shade of pink is most perfect.
Of course you’re going to have deep grooves in your forehead, Jeannett.
And so, maybe we look a little worn through.
A little like the Velveteen Rabbit who loved so much it hurt.
So pack my bag full of grief and worry, lines and creases. Doughier middles and bags under eyes. Because I know it is tempered so beautifully with laughter and happiness and cookies with sprinkles.
But mostly so much love it literally hurts. Love so deep and real that it scars.
The best kind of all.