Tomorrow morning you are going to camp. Fifth grade camp, that is. I know - weird! Up here in Michigan its something they do, send little 10 and 11 year old children off into the wild. Of course, the wild consists of a hotel-like lodge with air conditioning, a 24/7 mess hall and no spiders in the latrine. Because there is no latrine. There are private showers and toilets with running water. I think the only reason this is called camping is because it involves a sleeping bag.
We're supposed to send letters along with you. Letters that your 'camp' leaders will give you on the second and third day of your stay. We're only supposed to say uplifting, non-homesick promoting things in these letters. So, here on my blog that I know you won't read for a few years at least, I'm going to tell you all the things I'm not allowed to tell you in your letters from home.
I miss you. You're not even gone. In fact, you are playing right in front of me in the family room. You are wrestling with your sister Carly and generally annoying your father. It's the stuff good memories are made of. I know you will only be gone for a couple of days but my heart already thuds uncomfortably with your absence. I realize it doesn't make any sense to miss you before you are gone, but I can already feel the empty space you will leave. You make up so many of the happy moments of my day. I am in love with your goofy grin, your big brown eyes, your apple cheeks. I love you more than I ever thought I could love another person. You occupy a space in my heart that is yours alone and will always belong to you. I fear the day you flee my nest for good.
I'm proud of you. So very proud of the kindness, the empathy, the simplicity, the imaginative, the forgiving, the faithful way you live your life. I'm glad that you love to make people happy. I like to take some credit for the goodness in you, but the truth is most of it is just who you are. You came that way, all wrapped up in a good person package, and I realize how blessed I am by it.
I'm afraid for you. Afraid that people will take advantage of your faithfulness. Afraid that your heart will be broken. Afraid that you won't stand up for yourself. Afraid that you won't see it when people are making fun of you. Because you don't expect people to be mean. You think all people are good and kind, like you - you haven't learned otherwise yet. I hope you never do. I dread the day your innocence is broken.
I'm thinking of you. Some part of me is connected to you at every moment of every day. Now and then my heart stutters and stops when you are not home. Now and then my brain whizzes to a picture of your face. You will always belong to me, no matter the roads and courses you choose.
I can't wait until you get home. I'm already counting the moments.