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.