We dip and dive between hot, sticky air and cool, blue water surfacing only for pizza and friendship. Kids in matching swimsuits and chlorine stained eyes grin like guppies and their parents lean into the water and let it wash the week from off tired shoulders.

The sun is shining just so and teenagers play volleyball and my boys are insistent that they know how to play Ping-Pong even when their noses barely scrape the top of the table. Long weeks have come and gone and we have found our vacation in stolen evenings down by the community pool. PJs packed in the pool bag and waiting for the night to come and bring them tired, happy kids ready to slip home and straight to bed.

I cup it in my hands and feel the light, light fragility of it all, wrapped as it is in such a delicate packaging of skin and bone. I can still smell the sunscreen that lingers in their towels and hear them down the hall not sleeping even though they assure us with giggles that they are. Some nights I don’t know if my heart can take it. All this beauty. It registers as a dull ache just below my rib cage.  And I am terrified of losing them. Or of them losing me.

I don’t know how He trusted me with these children.

I don’t know if I could ever survive saying good-bye to them.

I don’t know how the days go by so slowly but the years rush by so fast.

I don’t know how to be brave when the news tells me I could lose them in an instant.

I don’t know how a beetle is both their friend and foe.

I don’t know how they remember every lullaby I ever made up.

I don’t know how to box it all up in my heart so that I don’t forget a single detail.

I don’t know how my mom did it. I don’t know how she breathed the words good-bye. It seems that must have been its own kind of dying, apart from the cancer.

So I clutch these nights, this family, and these moments tight, tight in my desperate heart and sometimes it feels like all I know is what I don’t know. And what I don’t know could fill a universe. Lost at sea in the darkness I follow the Southern Cross back to the only thing I know.

Jesus loves me.

This I know.

This I know.

This I know.

And if He says “to be absent from this body, is to be present with the Lord,” I believe Him. And I release my tight grip on what I don’t know and take His hand instead.

Because from what I know of Him, that must be very good.

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