I am never not thinking about her. Day and night, whether I am alone or with people, she is there in the periphery at least but more often right up front, an up-close but silent line drawing around every face I see, every activity, every thought.
And I don’t know how much I am allowed to talk about it because at this moment there is nothing we can do but pray.
It’s not all worry or grief. I just plain miss her. Her voice, her smile, her skin. I miss her sense of humor, her plans, the way she loves her dogs and the mountains, the photos of what she’s cooking (she is such a wonderful, creative cook!). I miss our conversations, both deep and silly.
I miss that cozy assurance that she is my daughter and I am her mother and that no matter what happened during those years apart, no matter what people said and did, no matter how much time passed, it was always so. And it will always be so. I miss that assurance a lot. I fight voices every day whispering that the last few years were a lie, that she didn’t love me or that we didn’t actually regain that intimacy. That I was blinded by desperation.
She does appear in my dreams still, but less often in that magical way I experienced during her first long absence. Lately, they are nightmares, although sometimes those can deliver a spark of hope too.
Two nights ago I dreamed she was an infant and we were swimming together in dark purple water, barely lit from above by a single light source. It was a deep, narrow chute of water, like an underwater cave surrounded by nothing. She was drowning. Her tiny face angry and contorted, so blue it was almost black, silent but screaming, panicked for air, furious that she couldn’t breathe, terrified. I was below her. My legs were tied with corrugated pool hoses and wires, tied so tight I couldn’t kick. My arms were reaching out, my fingertips barely touching her. In that dream, I could feel her tiny, fleshy body bob against my hands. It was visceral. All I could do was just barely tap her through the water, toward the surface.
When she had an emergency appendectomy several years before all of this, her recovery was a miracle. Leading up to her discharge, she very much wanted to do everything the doctors told her to do, such as sit up on her own and learn again to twist out of bed. She was fighting both an infection from lack of antibiotics at the hospital and the normal abdomen pain from the gas they used to inflate her little belly for surgery. Moving on her own was important but uncomfortable, and it was difficult for me to not help her. One moment in particular as she was struggling to sit up, and I was struggling to watch her, she looked at me so sweetly and said, “Just a little nudge, Mama?” I rushed in and gave her the smallest nudge on her lower back and a little pressure on her upper arm, and she gripped me for balance. She twisted and sat up straight and stood up on her own. Gradually she walked and soon she felt so much better.
Just a little nudge, Mama?
In the dream, she was just a baby but she looked at me with those big brown China doll eyes and begged for help I couldn’t provide. Pleaded for it. Her face blue and her body slipping down into the dark water, her pale chubby legs kicking against the shadows.
Again I nudged her lightly, barely a tap, and the water floated her for a moment until she sank again. I cried out to God silently in my thoughts, “SAVE MY BABY, PLEASE COME GET HER, DON’T YOU SEE HER?? I CANNOT REACH HER, SHE IS SINKING!!”
And He did. He reached down in that instant and pulled her swiftly to the surface, where she found air and warmth and sunlight just in time. I couldn’t see her anymore but I was relieved. I still felt could still feel the hoses around my legs and the thick, oily cold water all over my body, those details only dreams can make you feel.
She was gone but safe. And I woke up.
A little while after waking up I cried telling my husband about the dream, it was so terrifying. But saying it out loud I finally heard the promises:
- God rescues when we are powerless.
- He does see.
- He does hear our silent screams.
- He will show up just in time.
- He loves her now just like when she was an infant, just like when she was a little girl in the hospital. Just like always.
Please keep praying for her.
There is so much more I could say, about what we have learned regarding helping and enabling, or maybe the differences between protecting and teaching, I don’t know. I don’t anything really excpet I miss her and love her so much. And she is so much pain and danger, and I cannot help her. Cannot even give her a nudge right now.
So my days are filled with animals and housework, running and cooking dinner. Unprecedented miracles (how can I tell them?) and awful nightmares. She remains with me every second, an indelible line drawing. My first baby, my friend, and so much more I cannot even express.
Several of you have loved ones in similar peril. I want you to know that every day when I pray for her, I pray for your babies too, no matter how old they are.
Several of you have reached out to privately share some of your own stories about overcoming, recovery, and straight up the miracle-working Love of God. I cannot thank you enough. It is all oxygen to us.
“And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?
Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea;
And there was a great calm.”