I know their smell and the sound of their voices. I know every look. Every crease of their brow. I know that "uppa! uppa!" means "pick me up!" and that no one says "ok!" cuter than she does. I know just how his face will crumple before his tender heart gets the best of him.
Long after baths have been taken and prayers said, I will remember how they ran 'round and 'round the kitchen counters laughing and playing chase. I will recall how he told his sister "I don't want to hold your hand because there's a booger in the middle of your head" and every detail of her face as she squinted her eyes and scrunched up her nose at me. I will dwell on these things until they are etched in my mind forever.
I am their mom.
So much of who I am and what I do is wrapped up in these tiny miracles that are living proof that the very best of two people can exist in one person.
They are among some of my first thoughts of the day and on my lips as I pray for them before bed each night. I am their cheerleader, chef, and chauffeur. I am their rescuer that gathers them close when life...or the ground...smacks them in the face.
Being their mommy means I persevere even when I want to quit. I don't take sick days or vacation. And Lord knows, no one is more aware of the food pyramid than me. I spend my days doing everything in my power to protect them, defend them, and mold them. Being their mom means I love them fiercely and deeply. Unconditionally.
Simply put there is nothing I wouldn't do for these little treasures that are so much a part of me that it's hard to know where I end and they begin. There are no lengths I wouldn't go to in order to ensure that they are safe, healthy, and happy.
All these reasons and more are why I can't quit thinking about the moms of those 20 precious children that have escaped this world for a much better place.
I have no doubt they knew every tiny detail of their child's quirks and personality. Every like and dislike right down to the order in which they would eat, or refuse to eat, each food group at every meal. Their homes echo with the silence of that missing voice that will never be heard again this side of Heaven.
These thoughts haunt me as I hold my children a little tighter and much longer. I have never been more aware than I am now of the fact that in the blink of an eye I could find myself exactly where those women are now. The reality of that steals my breath until fear and panic threaten to overwhelm me. Some days it's easy to live my life as if evil doesn't exist around every corner. To pretend that the most innocent lives cannot be touched by it. I want so badly to believe that if I work hard enough and am smart enough I can shield my children from it.
But deep down I know that I can't. Because I am not the One in control. He holds the lives of those I love in the palm of His hand and there is no safer place for them.
The cold hard truth is that there is an evil one that has come to steal, kill, and destroy. He roams about looking for innocence to devour. He is terrible and full of our worst nightmares.
But he is not the winner. In fact, he is already the loser.
It's hard to remember that when we're faced with the very darkest of times. But let's not forget that light, even just a flicker, is never more apparent than when we can see it against the backdrop of night. We may not be able to say His name in our schools. His presence may not be acknowledged outright in the media.
But make no mistake, He is still here.
Every one of us was created in His image. There is no escaping the evidence of our Heavenly Father here on Earth. He is in every kind or heroic act, every piece of good news, and the unexplained miracles are the strongest argument for His hand among us. Take a moment and add all those things up and I think you will see, like I did, that He was, is, and always will be victorious over evil.
He is our hope in times such as these.
Isn't that the very essence of the reason we celebrate Christmas? He came to be our rescuer. To save us from the things of this world that can smack us in the face when we least expect it. He came so that our souls could be shielded from evil forever.
He knows the sound of our voices. Every crease of our brow. He knows the number of hairs on our head and each of our days before one of them came to be. He knows just how our hearts will grieve when the worst comes to pass.
He delights in every piece of us. We are etched on the very palms of His hands.
He loves us deeply, fiercely, and unconditionally.
So let's live like the victors He's already said we are and be that flicker of light against this backdrop of night. That is how we can be a people worthy of the memory of heros and innocent lives.