As I sat in morning mass yesterday, I closed my eyes and envisioned the next couple of days.
Michel making it through customs. The smile across his face as the man stamps his passport. My mom coming down the stairs in the middle of the night and throwing her arms around him. And crying, as always. Levi waking up and hearing his deep voice. Levi’s giggles as he realizes his father is back. A lazy, snowy, Thursday, with Levi crawling all over his dad’s body.
I smiled and thanked God. I thanked Him for making these things all come to be. I thanked Him because without faith, I’d be so, so lost. And then I started to cry, as usual.
So here comes the prayer part. Ask and you will receive. So I’m asking for the man who evaluates Michel to see his honesty, his integrity. I’m asking him to encourage Michel to go, go and take care of your family. I’m asking the snow to wait just a few hours. I’m asking, plainly, for Michel to be brought home to us.
And I’m asking anyone who reads this to ask God with me, to pray for his safe return, tomorrow, and at 12:30 in the afternoon, as he walks through customs.
It has only been a month since he left, a month that seems more appropriate to gather in hours, but yet it is here. He can’t stay long, won’t ever be able to stay long again until some type of residency is worked out, but for now, any visit will do. So the noise can be back in Levi’s life. The beautiful chaos that is his father.
I realized a lot of things while he was gone. But the most important, I think, is that a family can be put together many ways. We’re broken and we’re messy and we maybe don’t fit all that well, but nothing can pull us apart as long as our foundation is right, and that is Jesus.
These past weeks I’ve been focused and determined. I’ve been running in place getting things done, working, working, working, because when you have to, you have to. But on Sunday I went and got my nails painted, a lilac colored I regretted immediately after seeing the first nail, but didn’t have the heart to say anything, as if my dislike in my own color choice would offend the woman painting them. Anyway. It’s a place I’ve gone to three times before, since having my nails done is a newly found motherhood joy, but this time something struck me differently. There is a woman who works there, from some Spanish descent, who I have always been drawn to. She’s older, her hair pulled back in a small ponytail held by one of those scrunchies I wore when I was young, her face drawn with lines. When you look in her eyes though, if she lets you hold her stare long enough, you can see her youth. They are watery and blue, with something so deep swimming in them. This lady was working on another woman’s hands, across from me, and from the angle where I sat I could see her feet. My eyes drifted around the room in the silence, the water from the pedicure station bubbling, the wax machine humming, and just the sound of the occasional chair scraping the ground as someone got up or sat down. My hands were being massaged with some lavender smelling lotion when my eyes landed on this woman’s feet under the table she was working at. Black Reeboks, with the entire left sole peeling off. Something inside of me cracked, and I had to shake my head to stop from crying. I couldn’t believe my emotion from seeing this woman’s feet. My mind started racing. It was Sunday afternoon, she is always there when I’m there. When is she not working? Does she have children? Is she married? Does she even want to be there, painting people’s nails and scrubbing their feet? I started praying fiercely, for her joy, her peace, that something so wonderful is rooted deep in her soul, giving life to her each day. I prayed she knows the peace of Christ, that peace that surpasses all understanding.
As my nails were drying, and when I really thought I couldn’t take another moment in there with just my thoughts to distract me, we made eye contact, and when I smiled, she returned one. One of the most beautiful and authentic, and tired, smiles I’ve ever seen.
I drove home and cried the whole time. Wished I had all the money in the world to give to people like her. But I don’t even know if she needs money. Maybe her friends describe her as one of the happiest people they know. Maybe she does knows Christ, and He’s her secret. Regardless, it convicted in me again that I have to be serving. Especially me, because I’m so famously selfish, I must be serving. What other purpose is there on this planet than to be helping others? You know what I mean.
So it suddenly made sense to me, why, after being so productive this month, I would want Michel back here so bad. Because life is filled up by little moments that just string together and make one big picture. And right now, this is it. I have a family that I can turn to for anything. I can jump, and I’ll be caught. I am safe. I am loved. I am a disaster, and they accept it. Well sometimes Levi doesn’t but that’s ok. Sometimes he pulls my hair and laughs and I know I somehow deserve it.
So tomorrow night I will go to pick up Michel, and watch as my son who somehow is also his son, and we are, somehow, a family. And I will be thankful, because it is good. Because it’s all good.
Please, I’m begging you, pray with me.