Missing Her

One thing is certain – I need that little girl. Walking away from her this afternoon felt like ripping my heart out and watching it flop all over the mall parking lot like a fish, gasping for air.
Lee and I drove to Columbia, SC today to meet my parents halfway to Tennessee and hand over our soul (in the form of a bouncy blonde 18 month old). I’ve spent a night away from her before – one night on three separate occasions, and barely 24 hours each time. But tonight is the first of 9 nights in a row away from my baby, and that’s a pretty steep slope. I know she’s going to be cared for very well by her grands. I sent them about 5 pages worth of instructions, which is insane since they all raised children perfectly well on their own. And I know we’ll have to put her through detox when we get back because she’ll be so spoiled rotten. But what if she misses us and can’t understand why we’re not there? What if she needs us? And how can I go that long without looking into her baby blue eyes? Couldn’t we have gradually worked our way into this sort of separation?
But an opportunity arose, and we decided to grab it. Our church has a sister church in Sancti Spiritus, a town in the heart of Cuba near Trinidad. A couple of times each year, our church sends a group of people there on a mission trip to bring medicines, toiletries, and good old Baptist solidarity. We’ve heard about these trips and always thought it would be fun to go along, and suddenly a spot opened up for the both of us. Several things fell into place, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.
Back in September when we decided to sign up for the trip, I remember having reservations about leaving Camille for that long. But I thought, “She’ll be 19 months old then, it’ll be easier.”
Now, I think that was a dumb thing to say to myself. Does it ever get easier? The three of us have become quite the bonded family unit, and any time one of us is missing I feel like some of my limbs have been removed. I need that little girl. I need her hugs and smiles, her eskimo kisses, and her laughter.
But I truly do believe this trip is important and I hope it will be fulfilling to us in many ways. I think it’s important for Lee and I to have time to be a couple, to be sure we don’t forget how to talk to each other without using baby language or calling each other “Mama” or “Daddy.” I also think it’s an important trip for us to take with our church, and I’m very interested to see what I’ll learn about my fellow church members, about Cuba and its people, about my husband and about myself. Moving out of my comfort zone has always been eye opening.
I’m excited about experiencing Cuba, which I’ve heard is like stepping back in time. We’ll get to spend some time in Sancti Spiritus and Havana. Only 90 miles from the Florida keys, but a world away. I’ve gotten myriad reactions when I’ve told people where we’re going – a mixture of confusion (is it legal?), interest, and alarm. When I told the receptionist at my office, she said, “You must not watch the same TV shows I watch! If you did, you wouldn’t get off that plane.” She sounded convinced that we would be kidnapped and held for ransom or tortured. I hopped on the elevator I waved good-bye and told her I’d see her next week. “I hope so. I’ll be praying for you,” she said, shaking her head in dismay that I hadn’t immediately canceled my trip.
Well, it is legal thanks to our religious visas. And I’m traveling with a group of seasoned Cuba visitors so I think I’m in good hands.
And I’ve got another reason to make it back in one piece. My little girl. I need to see her again so I can pick my heart back up and put it in my chest. Oh how I miss her.