It's Friday Liza-bug, and you've been in school now for two weeks. That first day of school you were so excited - so tickled over the fact that you were starting first grade that I couldn't help but feel happy for you. I got all tingly as you hopped into the car with Daddy and waved goodbye to us down the driveway.
But the day was long. It felt like you were gone for-ev-er. Especially to these four - the twinsies left at home.
The girls kept asking when you were coming home. "It's lunch time. Isn't she supposed to be home now?" they asked.
You're the ringleader around here, the inventor, our imaginationer extraordinaire. And those first few days with you absent, the girls weren't sure what to do with themselves. It's taken a while for them to get creative on their own.
If the boys aren't awake before you leave, they ask for you all through breakfast. "Where Li-Li? Li-Li go school?"
They light up when you're home in time to wake them from their naps. "Li-Li!"
They miss you. The girls miss you.
And I miss you.
I've finally stopped pulling out five plates for lunch. I had to retrain my brain. (Brain: Eliza eats lunch at school now. Not with us.) But you LOVE your Hello Kitty lunch box. And I'm having fun leaving you notes on your napkins.
As soon as you're home, you go hog-wild with the crafts, the make-believe, the building of forts, and planning "parties." Your spirit obviously needs that freedom to create. It's all you want to do once you walk in the door.
This tower you built out of boxes kept you and your sisters busy for almost three hours. You drew windows with all kind of people looking out, decorated the terraces with gardens and doors, and topped it with paper flags.
I just watched and took pictures.
I thought you'd be exhausted after seven hours of school, but you've come home every day with a smile on your face. Except one...
(I'd smile too if I walked home with this darling group of girls each day.)
Monday I waited and waited for you on the front lawn. All the kids came by, but not you. Most of your friends, except the two you always walk with, came by. I figured you were all together... somewhere. But when twenty-five minutes went by and you still hadn't appeared, I began to worry. I was about to load everyone into the car and zoom over to the school, when I saw you rounding the corner.
You were entirely alone, shuffling along with your shoulders slumped forward, your face was red from the heat, and your eyes held a hint of fear - of hurt. When they met mine, you burst into tears.
You had waited by the tree, but your friends never came. I learned later there had been a miscommunication. But you waited and waited, not sure what to do.
We went inside and I held you on the couch, let you cry. Finally I asked how you came to the decision to walk home alone. You looked up into my face, "I said a prayer that Heavenly Father would protect me, then I started walking the way I remembered."
I hugged you close, brave girl. So proud of your courage, and the way you included God in your decision. I asked you what you would do tomorrow if it happened again. You answered with newfound confidence. "I guess I would say a prayer again and walk home."
You are away from me now more than you are with me. This puts you in a new and vulnerable place where I can't always be there to intervene, help you problem-solve, hover over your shoulder. And with your siblings so close in age, I am feeling panicked a bit that you will all be gone before I know it - before I am ready.
But I'm discovering a new kind of confidence too. In being able to let you go.
We need in love to practice only this: letting each other go.
For holding on comes easily, we do not need to learn it.
-Rainer Maria Rilke
I love you fiercely Eliza.
And the truth is, I won't stop missing you anytime soon.