we’re missing one

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Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.

~ Elizabeth Stone

Luau was away this past weekend – at a fraternity brother’s bachelor party in Miami. Join me in a collective sigh, won’t you? Miami. Love you, hon. As tired as I was – and damn, I was tired – I was determined to make our girls’ weekend at home one to remember.

On Saturday night, we piled into the car and headed here. Edaville is an eighteen hundred acre cranberry bog plantation surrounded by a five and a half mile railroad. Every winter, the property is transformed into a Christmas village. Seven million lights (seriously, seven million – it’s on their website) twinkle and shimmer and put even the grumpiest Scrooge in the Christmas spirit. There are Christmas themed rides and displays and of course, the big guy himself. The best part? A nice warm train makes its way around the property – filled with little noses pressed against its windows, taking in the lights at every turn.

As we settled onto the train, a group of people came and sat down across from us. Eight or so adults in their twenties sat with two older adults – a man and a woman. It appeared that they were from a group home. Some of them had obvious challenges; others’ were less pronounced. As they took their seats, the man walked along the bench and counted heads. He didn’t seem to like what he’d come up with, so he did it again. And then he shouted to the woman, “We’re missing one!”

She muttered something under her breath but didn’t move. No one was moving. I seemed to be the only one panicking.

“It’s H. We’re missing H.”

There was some commotion among the group. One young man was pointing at another, while a young woman was laughing hard. The young woman said, “We’re not missing H. H is right here!” and then laughed even harder.

“Well then who are we missing?” the man asked, now visibly agitated – but seemingly more frustrated than upset. He made his way down the bench again and apparently figured it out. “It’s C!” He shouted down to the woman. “Where’s C?”

After a few minutes, someone located C on the next train car. Relief washed over me. They seemed relatively unfazed. I guessed this kind of thing wasn’t novel.

One of the young men in the group joked around with me while we waited for the train ride to start. His smile was as bright as any of the lights in the park. He was funny. I was grateful for the connection.

The train conductor came into the car and asked if we could all smush down a bit to make room for one last family. I’ll admit to not trying terribly hard as I knew that Brooke would need a little breathing room, but my friends on the opposite bench went all out. They pushed into one another trying desperately to make some room.

The woman yelled at them. “THAT’S ENOUGH!” she hissed. “There’s no more room. STOP PUSHING!” She looked at the man, who had settled in next to me and sneered, “They’re so LITERAL.”

The train began to roll. A cheer went up from the bench as the lights came into view.

The ride was wonderful.

And through it all I held onto Brooke for dear life. I nuzzled into her soft winter coat and found myself praying – pleading. Please God, watch over my baby. Let me be here to hold her and keep her safe. Help me give her the tools to be independent. Please, just protect her.

I looked at the group across from me. They looked happy. The one young woman was still laughing. My joking buddy was pointing at the lights.

And watch over C and H and all of these beautiful souls, because they are somebody’s baby too.

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28 thoughts on “we’re missing one

  1. You’re doing everything possible to assure that Brooke will grow into an independent young woman. You;re taking such good care of your babies as well as caring so much for other people’s babies. Please take care of my baby, too! Take some time to nurture YOU!

    Love,
    Mom

  2. I understand and feel your fear. I wish and hope all your hopes and dreams for her, and them, come true.
    I hear and understand all of it……
    Love you,
    Dad

  3. Amen, and pass me a hanky, my friend…but I want to remind you of ONE teensy thing:

    Those sweet folks? Happy. Your joking friend? Happy. Literal, yes, maybe a little squirrelly…but happy.

    But I get it. Yes, my love. God bless them all. All God’s children.

    (p.s. I don’t mean to sound so churchy at 6am…)

  4. Ok hormonal prego lady should not read this after she puts her makeup on.

    I want all of my kids to be happy and independent but I want this so bad for Devin that it hurts.

  5. Glad you were able to get this post out! It’s a good one. Brooke is a very lucky little girl to have you, Luau & Katie there for her every step of the way – wherever the road may lead!

  6. I’m not sure I’ve ever commented here before but I read often.

    Three times a week I go to pick my NT son up from pre-school and in the space outside the classroom I have the pleasure of interacting with a group of LITERAL adults. I love this few minutes every week because they are so full of happiness. But the part that always brings me down is how the attendants sometimes interact with them. It can be a teeny bit condescending and I always leave there thinking: those people are each someone’s baby. It makes me a bit sad. So your post really spoke to me.

  7. I love that quote. You are doing everything you can to make sure Brooke has a happy and fulfilling life. Independence and happiness and much more, so much more.

  8. i’m glad the group was able to get out, see some things, experience the world around them. i’m glad there was someone else very understanding in the train (jess), able to take in their differences with an open, accepting mind. perfect example of how easy it can be to make the mental adjustment, leave a little breathing room for difference. (and i always like your writing. you’re so great at painting pictures, providing windows onto the scene, bringing it to life for us. so…thank you).

  9. You Mrs Jess have the uncanny ability to bring me to tears at any given time and you inspire me with your strength. I really believe all that you are doing now will enable Brooke to be quite independent. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Oh, Jess. I know, sweetie, I know. Please God, help protect Brooke and all our kids. Please, God, give them the ability to be independent. And please, God, give us the wisdom to know the difference. I heart you, kiddo.

  11. I’m the same way, lifting up prayers for others I see throughout my day.

    I had to laugh. My teenage son’s best friend’s legal name is H…that’s it H. And if you put a period after it he’ll correct you. “No period because that would imply that it is an abbreviation for something, which it is not.”

    The teen group has started writing his name “Ache” now. Even he signs things “Ache” now.

    BTW, H could use prayers too. I don’t know of a boy who has more trouble find him when he’s not looking for it. In college I dated a guy named “Jinx” and the name suited him because of all the really bizarre stuff that happened to him. You couldn’t make it up.

  12. Beautiful story and a WONDERFUL quote about having children. Are you willing to reveal where you find all these brilliant quotations? I’d love to fool my friends into thinking I’m scholarly :)

  13. Also holding on for dear life. My sweet girl is 11 but if and when she is ready for some ‘independence’, I’m pretty sure my new career will be working at side….just to be safe.

  14. Thanks for the story! I lost one quite a few years ago. He followed his aunt to get snacks while I stayed at our seats at an ice show. Only, she didn’t know he did. She returned without him. I was so upset, as this was novel for me. She went immediately to find him while I melted down. He was near the snack stand walking a large circle pattern, not even realizing he was lost!

  15. I loved this blog. May God give all our wonderful kids the independence they need. I love the literal”ness” of these kids and enjoy the moments my kiddo makes jokes about being to literal! God Bless and Merry Christmas!

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