Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dear Tito and Lili (a summer 2014 letter)

Dear Tito, Dear Lili,

You are, as I write this, both asleep in your beds. I love naptime. It gives me a chance to pause and take a deep breath, to recover a little bit, and to gather my strength for the hours ahead. Don't get me wrong, they will undoubtedly be delightful hours (especially when we get over the post-nap grumpies), but they will probably stretch out longer than I want; and they will involve tears in one way or another, probably a few fights, some disappointments, some delights, and dinner, which is usually a bit of all of the above, and always a lot of work.

You know what I was thinking about this morning as we went about our day, not doing anything particularly special at all? I was thinking that all of it was special. I was thinking that it is completely impossible to capture the moment-by-moment delights that are our daily reality in a way that could possibly communicate to somebody outside of this time and this place, how life with my two small children was lived moment-to-moment, many of which were filled with a wonder so ordinary it is impossible to record.

When you are older, you will see pictures of yourselves laughing and playing with bubbles. These pictures will make it seem like bubbles were an event, maybe a once-or-twice thing that delighted you. In reality, it is an event, but it's one that happens every few days and yet still never fails to delight. The happy moments in the bathtub that I occasionally catch on camera? Those are a microcosm for every time you take a bath. Every dinner you make each other giggle with new antics while your dad and I sit back and watch. Every bike ride is exciting, every walk is an adventure. You didn't just empty out the cabinet once and laugh hilariously while you popped in and out. We didn't just read the same sweet book once. Lili didn't just shout "Me, ICE" once when ice cream was mentioned.

Our lives are a series of moments; every moment is unique and special, but the uniqueness is lost when everything blurs together into hot summer days and soon-forgotten lunches or treats or crafts, and bedtimes that mean the all-too-soon end of a day for a little heart that wants to experience more than his little body has the capacity for at this age.

I take a lot of pictures, even recognizing the weakness of the medium to capture memories like a little girl's kisses (loud but not sloppy anymore) and a little boy's laugh (free and contagious). I take pictures because I love beauty, and photos are one way that I can both capture and create beauty. I also take pictures because I want to try my best to capture those moments - the ones where you stand at the window waiting for daddy's car to pull into the driveway, or the way you both laid out next to daddy the other night when we did our evening devotions on the grass, or the way Lili drove most of the way home from the cabin with Tito's sunglasses on upside down, or the way Tito invited Callie the dog to sit on his lap for much of that same drive. You will look at those pictures and see moments, but I will look at those pictures and see them strung together into our life. I will do my best to string them together for you, even though I am now grasping some of the mother's secret that was discovered by Mary when she "treasured up all of these things, pondering them in her heart."

Even knowing this, I take these pictures because I want you to look at them some day and see laughter on your faces and smiles in our eyes. I want you to have a tangible reminder that you were happy and that you were loved. I will save these images not just in my ever-fading-memory, but in a book that we will look at together and we will tell stories of the times that we treasured you, not just in the big events, but even more so in the little moments. I may have been so fed up that I put you both down for naps so early this afternoon that it took you hours to fall asleep, but I wouldn't trade anything for the times that you are awake.

Life will not always be easy, and I cannot protect you from pain. But I will try my best to give you a gift of memories of a bright time, one that laid a foundation of joy and more importantly of trust in parents and in God; and I will pray that these moments light a spark in your hearts that will never go out, a deep conviction that you were once filled with joy and no matter how dark the night may feel, "weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning."

We have so much joy in the little moments now, but it will not always last, no matter how many pictures I take. The best news is that joy always comes in the Morning.

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