Today was lovely. Really and truly lovely. I am often humbled by the joys I am given. I am finding myself becoming more and more thoughtful about what to do in order to give it back, to pay it forward. Occasionally, I make philanthropic donations, but I am feeling more and more as though I ought to get involved in something bigger. I don’t know what yet. I only know that there is too much suffering going on, particularly with respect to little children. I am making it a goal to research ways to get involved…it has been too long since I last had my hands and time in something that gave direct aid to others.

Looking at my son’s face, cuddled happily against me just a couple hours ago as he drifted off to a late nap, I thought about those children who need love and safety. I would die for my children, walk through fire to save them. It was written as much in every little line of Eric’s face as I held him, warm and glowing in the light, safe from the cold rain outside. It was an almost indescribably cozy moment, my newly bathed baby boy nestled with me in our coziest “cozy chair.” Shortly after the drifted to sleep, his hands curled, he let out the happy sigh of a sleeping baby. Time holding him is precious.

Katie is spending the night at my mom and dad’s house tonight for a “slumber party.” It is good to let her feel her independence, and she has been wanting to have a slumber party with them for some time now. Last night, she got a little case of cold feet and expressed wanting to be home and at Amie and Boppa’s at the same time. I told her that she didn’t have to make a decision right then, that she could wake up and see how she felt. She has been excited all day. I am going to call them in a bit to check in. Oh, how I miss her.

Last night, we had a “secret cuddle time” in our cozy chair—-past bedtime! She had taken a long nap, and so I surprised her and said that we would put Daddy and Eric to bed at bedtime, and that I would let her come downstairs with me for cuddle time with just the two of us. She has been needing one-on-one time more than I realized lately. We shared a chocolate dessert and watched all of American Idol, cuddling in the cozy chair. It is a huge chair with an ottoman, so we were really hunkered down, all the lights off except the lights in the built-ins. She loved that time, and so did I.

I am beginning to have glimpses into the future. Even with Katie gone just tonight, I am longing to kiss and hug her so much that if I even start to think really hard about it, I ache. What will I do when both of them are gone to a university somewhere? How do parents of grown children deal with that desire to hug and kiss them? Our babies, our babies… How will I know they are safe? What will I do if they are sick or hurting in their dorm rooms? I wonder if I will be even remotely ready by then. I know I have to be. I know I will encourage them to spread their wings far, to embrace their learning, seek the next phase. And that I will have to wait to see them, to kiss them, to hear their voices and laughter. That waiting…that will be the time for all the books I am not now reading, all the cross-stitch projects I am not now doing. Katie asked me last night why I haven’t been cross stitching as much lately. “Oh, my hands are busy with other things these days, sweetie. But I might pick it up again for a moment soon.” She was sweet, and she said, “I can help you do it!”

I wish I could always have everyone I love in one place. Don’t you?

This morning, the kiddos and I went to our music class, came home for a brief restocking of the diaper bag, and then met two of my friends and former students, Erin and Lauren Sanchez. I consider teaching them (they are twin sisters) to be one of the most fortunate parts of my career as a teacher, and I could not imagine how life would be without the light they put in it for everyone around them. Both of them are studying to be nurses, and they speak with such passion about their profession. They have the spirit of service, hearts of compassion, and minds filled with intelligence. Lauren excels at microbiology, and now she has me thinking about the invisible world all around us. Erin has loved her experiences in various ICUs. Both of them speak of their patients with real care. They were meant to be in this line of service. It is a blessing, also, as a teacher who has known them for many years, to see how their new experiences have continued to grow their hearts and minds—I love knowing so many of my students as adults and friends now. The beautiful part of teaching always has been the privilege of having so many lives intersect with mine. Even lives that intersected with mine in non-peaceful ways…that’s okay. Being a teacher is to have a unique vantage point in life, to see humanity in a privileged way. I am just so proud of Lauren and Erin. Katie absolutely enjoyed her time with them. We went to Pamir Kabob House (Erin works there on school breaks and was the person to tell us about it several years ago). Katie gobbled up all of the delicious lunch and immediately trusted both of them. I love having her around them, because they are both such role models—and always have been.

Well, it is time for a movie with my husband and son (who might just keep on sleeping, it seems…).

I am thankful for this day, for the chance to connect with beautiful lives, for rain and for singing, for the poignant love of missing my daughter, for special time with my husband, and for everything else I may have taken for granted today.