It's been a busy couple of weeks. My mom, the boys, and I were able to travel to Virginia to see my brother and visit with some friends. It was a long, draining trip but it was lovely being able to visit the place we called home for five years and to see my brother after the longest separation my mom and I have ever had from him.
That has nothing to do with this blog, honestly. But I said all that to say: The day before we left for VA I had taken my youngest son to day care while I took my oldest to an appointment. When I was picking him up, I saw a mother walking with her young son (he was probably 18 months). As they went through the entry way, she stopped to hold the door for another mother walking in. Her little one stopped and looked to his side, expecting to see her there, and when he didn't his lip began to quiver. She was a mere 2-3 feet behind him and with these simple words she calmed his fears: "I'm right here."
It hit me in that moment that those may be the three most underrated words in all of creation. How highly we hold that three-word phrase we all hold so dear: I love you. But I believe that "I'm right here" is right up there with its more popular three-word counterpart. Love is a tremendous thing, but love without presence lacks meaning.
I immediately thought about wanting to blog about what that mother said and why it was such an extraordinary thing. And I'm just now having the time to sit down and do just that.
How often have we said those words, or something similar, in our lives? How often have we heard them? When we have heard them, how often has it been exactly what we needed to hear?
I've always fancied myself someone with a good memory. I can remember things from when I was only a toddler. I started thinking back on times with my mother as a child. None stood out to me when she used that phrase with me as a little girl, but one thing that did stand out was how often she showed me that she was right by my side. Her presence, and the presence of others in my family, shines through to me more than anything else in my early years.
I started thinking about a time when I was a little older--my preteen days. I had my first crush, but of course I thought it was much more. I happened to be head-over-heels for one of my brother's friends, and after he had spent a weekend at our house, my tween girl feelings were just that much more amplified. However, I was wise beyond my years in the sense that I knew, deep down, that we'd never be together. And although it seems silly now, it killed me. I went to my best friend's house to spend the night (it was summer time) and she, too, had spent the weekend with someone she cared very deeply for. She is five years my senior, so her feelings and experiences were far more complex than that of an 11 or 12 year old girl, but the feeling of desperation of wanting something you can't have was the same. I remember walking into her room, without saying a word to her about how I was feeling or having any indication of how she was feeling. Before we started our normal routine of playing Nintendo and listening to No Doubt, we both just looked at each other and began to cry. Neither of us knew exactly why the other was crying, just yet, but we did know that we needed each other in that moment. We hugged and cried together. Finally, she broke the silence. "I'm here. I'm so sorry." We continued to cry for a few minutes, then dried it up and explained why we were both feeling so down. After getting it off our chests, we went on with our night of playing around, listening to music, and eating entirely too much ice cream. We had a good time. But I believe without each others' presence, we would have lingered in our sadness.
A few years later...a similar situation. I had broken up with my first real boyfriend after being together for over two years. I quickly started dating someone else, and because I was pretty new at the whole thing, I fell hard. He wasn't right for me. Everyone saw it as a fling. My two best guy friends strongly advised me against dating him. But, I thought it was love. He was 16 (a year younger than I was) and had a child. We worked together, and after only being "an item" for a couple of weeks, he met me in the parking lot at work and told me he was breaking up with me to try to make it work with his baby's mother. Good for him, really. But, at the time it hurt. I think it hurt worse than it should have because, like I said, I had fallen hard. I missed the security and companionship I had with my ex and I wanted to have that again. I felt really lonely. I remember leaving work early that night, much to my manager's chagrin, and calling my friend Kyle on the way home. "Meet me at my house, can you?" He could tell I was upset. He showed up at my doorstep with our other bestie, Daniel. I remember just looking at them and saying "Please don't say 'I told you so'" and bursting into tears. They immediately understood. Neither of them said they saw it coming, even though they both did. They just sat with me and said "Who needs him? We're here."
As I walked with my two sons to the van and my mind pushed that last memory aside, a new one came into view. I was in my car, at the top of the hill close to my home, off the side of the road. I realized I had just wrecked my car but was disoriented. I pulled out my cell phone and made a call to my mom. As soon as she answered, I said through my tears, "Mom, I need you." "Where are you?", she asked. I told her. "I'll be right there." And within 2 minutes, she was pulling up next to me. "I'm right here. It's okay, I'm here."
Another memory flashed in my mind. I was 21 years old, and after a long, hard labor I welcomed my first child into the world. I remember feeling like the weight of all the love in the world was placed in my arms when I first held him. I said "Hi, baby. You're here. You're finally here." Everything I had dreamed of was presented to me in that moment. He was right there and that was more than enough for me.
Driving home from day care, a few other memories popped into my mind. The times my husband was deployed--those first phone calls or video chats. The connections were always awful and he'd cut in and out. But I'd hear his voice on the line. "I'm here", he'd say and even if he was only there with me for a minute, it was enough to get me through the next few weeks we'd go without hearing each other's voices.
When I found out we had lost a baby between my two sons, and my husband was underway. A friend sat with me in the ER. "I'm so glad you're here.", I said.
When my second son was born, he came out without a heartbeat. He wasn't breathing. He lied purple and lifeless on the bed for what seemed like forever before they whisked him away to cut his cord and suction his lungs. When we finally heard his cry, I remember crying tears of joy myself and thinking "There it is! The cry I've been waiting for. He's here and he's okay."
When my brother was living with us and my husband was gone for deployments, workups, or duty days, I'd often wait up for my brother to get home and confess that I hated a house without a male presence. "Eh, I'm here.", he'd say, "No need to worry."
When my oldest would have a nightmare or my youngest would wake up hungry, I'd rush to their bedside and rub their backs. "Mommy's right here. I'm right here," I'd say as I picked them up and comforted them.
When my husband finally returned home from his last deployment after four extensions and I heard my boys yelling "Daddy's here! He's really here!!".
The words "I'm right here" may not seem like much when we first think about them. I'm sure we all hear them and say them daily. But when you think about the gravity of those words and the meaning behind them, a lot of things in life come into perspective. Isn't presence the most important thing we can give someone in this life? Love without presence is empty. Friendship without presence falls short. Relationships of any kind, without presence, cannot be influential or empowering.
Be there for the ones you love. Be present with God, with your children, your spouse, your parents, your family, and your friends. Revel in the times that someone has said those words to you, and proven to you that they mean it from the deepest parts of their soul. I never thought overhearing three little words in a scenario that I hear and experience quite often would take me for the ride it did, but I am so glad that it happened that way. Seeing that child go from scared to comforted in an instance was so poignant to me. Be that comfort for someone in your life and allow someone to comfort you in the same way. It's the every day things that often go unnoticed that tend to be the life-altering moments in our lives. <3 nbsp="" p="">