I know you see us, looking over at your sweet baby. Smiling and making silly faces and, quite frankly, straight-up staring. I see you look over at us, a family of four sitting over on the other side of you, and your smile of acknowledgment is filled with a little bit of questioning.
I bet you’re wondering why we can’t get enough of you.
We keep looking your way, and all I can say is, “I’m sorry.” Sorry, we can’t help but watch. We sit here and take in how you have to pull her out of her high chair and rock her. How you struggle to eat your food with your lap and arms full and how she smiles up at you. I’ve tried looking away. I tried distracting myself with my food in front of me or our made-up games we play at the table. But that usually only lasts a moment before we all find our heads turning back in your direction.
Before my daughters see a life in front of them, they know they are missing. Watching her sister play with her and asking me if they can go up and say hi. Steal a moment that they wish was all theirs. Watching you pick up the toys she has thrown on the ground for the thousandth time. I am watching her Daddy take her into his hands, acting like he has saved the day while you finally eat what’s cold.
I know you don’t know and couldn’t possibly unless we told you. Unless I finally found that shirt to wear that says, “momma of a baby who’s now in Heaven.” And it’s probably better that way. Better that you don’t know how half my heart is missing. I can catch a glimpse of how I’m missing and longing for every moment in your world from over here at our table. That should have made room for one more.
But if I did have the audacity to do such a thing. Suppose I did walk up to you? I’d say thank you for letting my girls play peek-a-boo from across the way. And that I’m so sorry we were staring; your daughter is such a joy. I know this stage is challenging. I know some days are not all sunshine and glitter. Sometimes, you feel like you would do anything to get a shower and a nap, maybe even eat a hot meal. Trying to eat out feels like more work than it’s worth, and I get it. I know it’s hard.
So, I’ll soak up the mundane moments for you.
We will cherish them for you in this little bit of an interaction we’ve been blessed with. At this moment in time where we could picture ourselves in your shoes. Where our youngest one was still here with us, and we were an average, little family, like yourselves.
Yes. I’m sure I would say something like that, as we pause after getting up from our table, to take in one more moment before we leave, but instead of any words, giving one last head nod, as you barely glance up and acknowledge, struggling to get her in her car seat. We will hold the pricelessness of it all for you.