I felt like they would forever be little. Caitlyn and Chase, my daughter and son, came into the world and brought with them enough love and joy to last me a lifetime. I can remember sitting in my hospital bed after each of their births, holding them, and staring into their faces. The emotions of connection and love were overwhelming.
Almost exactly three years apart in age, this sister-brother combo filled our lives with their busyness and their fierce love for each other. Of course, there were also tears, fits, fights, and frustrations, but those were far outweighed by the joy of their young years.
I look at this picture of them, and I feel like that young girl and boy are still with me - and in many ways they are. A parent's remembrances and connections don't end when her children are grown. They still fill our lives with their busyness, and they still love each other fiercely, but Caitlyn and Chase have now grown into responsible adults.
On one recent winter weekend in south Georgia, the realization that my children have grown up was made evident. On that afternoon, beside a beautiful old oak tree, Chase proposed to his girlfriend, Ashlyn. With a sparkly ring in hand, the question was asked, and a squeal of delight sealed the deal. We are gaining a daughter, and my little boy is becoming a husband. My shy boy who used to talk to me with two pacifiers hanging out of his mouth is
going to be a groom. Be still my heart.
After the celebrations of the proposal had died down, and we had retreated to our hotel for the evening, Caitlyn and her husband Brennan said they had a present for us to open. Sitting on the hotel bed, I unwrapped a box that contained a small onesie that said, "first grandbaby." After a long period of waiting and hoping, their dream was coming true (so was ours). A baby is coming! With this announcement came more squeals and tears. Our little girl, who spent her days playing with dolls is about to have a real live doll of her own. She and Brennan are going to be the best parents. They have so much love to give this baby. Be still my heart.
Needless to say, I was on emotion overload. But there was joy! Finally, joy had come back into our lives after a period of deep heartache. These two beautiful children that Cass and I loved into adulthood are on their own journeys of building families of their own. It is the circle of life playing out right before our eyes.
I think that it is only natural to think back on your children's days of growing up when big things like this happen in their lives. When Caitlyn and Chase were little, one of my favorite times was our Friday nights together. That was the night we would head to Blockbuster to rent a movie (there was no Netflix or Hulu in those days). We would get out the sleeping bags and make a bed for them on the floor of our den and watch a movie together. The movies that were chosen were often Disney movies. One of my favorites was Tarzan. I could identify with Kala (the adoptive mother gorilla) who comforts Tarzan with a beautiful song. "You'll be in my heart...from this day on, now, and forevermore."
I can't listen to that song without tears. Every parent holds their child deep within their heart in a space that is occupied by only that child. Each milestone, each heartache, each remembrance is held there. I am so grateful to have had the privilege of parenting Caitlyn and Chase. As we enter this new territory of being family, we will still hold each other in love and walk this new road together. To them I say, you will always be those blonde-haired, blue-eyed babies that your father and I adored. And we will forever hold you in our hearts...from this day on, now, and forevermore.