One of the few times I’ve ever left Maggie with a daytime sitter was for Gavin’s memorial service. It was a stunningly perfect day in La’ie, which I think is one of the North Shore’s most lovely communities. Even for Hawaii, this was a vibrant, beautiful day, an exceptional day. A pure day.
I thought I was heartbroken for his family until I saw them in person. Then I found my heart shattering into even tinier pieces as I watched them stand, radiating both strength and devastation, to say goodbye to their tiny son. As I said before, Natalie and I aren’t close, but I went because if it were me I’d want as many loving faces in the crowd as possible. And there was that–so much love in the room, so many hearts joined with the Norton family. His parents spoke of Gavin’s missionary work–how at only 8 weeks old, he brought prayer to people who haven’t ever prayed; judging by comments and emails and on and on, he brought thousands to God. Gavin touched more people with his life than some do in decades. This is absolutely true for me; his story has changed how I approach every single day with my daughter.
My heartache for the Nortons is irrevocably intertwined with my feelings for Maggie. My aunt told me that even though the baby stage may sometimes feel like it seems forever, “Babies are only ours on loan.” How right she was, even though I think of it in a darker way than she intended. Babyhood goes so fast anyway…and there is no guarantee that you’ll be permitted to advance to the next stage.
Morbid? Maybe. But it helps me to keep that in the back of my mind, actually. The rough afternoons of screaming, the twisting and flailing on the diaper table, the pinching and biting of little fingers and teeth that don’t know any better? A breeze to get through when I consider the alternative. The moments when she discovers how to wave “hello” or the sun hits her hair just right? Heaven–and appreciated as such. Every beautiful moment is held, cherished, and let go instead of taken for granted.
Today, Maggie is ten months old. Ten months on the tenth; my perfect ten. And she is recognized for the beautiful gift that she is.