Our dear, sweet friends from Bolivia are here again for a visit. Pablo lived in our city years ago, going to Bible School day and night, and eventually returned to Bolivia to become pastor and teacher at our bible school there. God has blessed the work there, and knitted our hearts to those of the Bolivian people, even those whom we have not met yet. Pablo is like family. His sister, Carolina, is a dear friend. His wife, Pamela, is a sweetheart. I have been looking forward all week to their arrival and hugged them with joy as soon as I spotted them this evening at church.
(I must admit that part of my anticipation in seeing them again, has to do with having Pablo play piano on the worship team. Man, that guy is gifted. I never fail to be inspired to get off my lazy behind and practise playing piano when he is around. He is not only talented, he is a worshipper – and his music is pure ministry to God’s heart. I long to be able to play like that.)
When Pablo lived here, he was a twenty-something bachelor. Now he is married, and father to the two cutest little dark-eyed, chubby-cheeked, curly-haired children.
I met his eldest, Valeria, two years ago when she was a contented little baby a few months short of her first birthday. Jenna had fussed over her with all the maternal feelings that a three year old could muster. I can still see her bending over Valeria’s carseat, “talking to the baby”, whilst stroking her cheek. (Pamela left some comments on the Jenna page, you can read what she said about how Jenna loved on Valeria at comment number 9.)
Now Valeria is a gorgeous little madam, almost three, who has her mommy and her daddy wrapped around her little finger.
I am in a quandry as to how to handle Valeria. I can see that my hubby is too. In one sense, we want to stare at her and lap up all her toddler sweetness, because we are missing the unique little mannerisms and movements that so many girly-girls around the age of three have in common. Did you know that little girls have a similar way of tilting their heads when they are intent on charming you, they have this singular little bounce when they run, their hands are often poised in quite the same way? I try not to stare at toddlers, but sometimes I can’t help it (hubby says sometimes he wonders if people mistake him for a pervert when he cannot help but stare). I see Jenna in girly toddlers, so often.
I saw Jenna in the body language of Valeria this evening, as she tried to coerce her daddy into going somewhere with her. And later, as she threw a temper tantrum. 🙂
To stare or not to stare. At some point, staring too much either alerts people around me of my longing or causes feelings to rise to the surface that are best controlled in public, so I have this very ambivalent response. Stare, or ignore. And whichever response I choose, I cannot help but be painfully AWARE.
Oooohhhh. So I sit here tonight, having been reminded by another sweet girly girl, of the little one that isn’t here with us right now. And as the tears roll down my cheeks, I post this little lament. I miss Jenna.
I reach for Jenna’s picture and stare at that sweet little smile, look into those expressive eyes framed by those gorgeous eyebrows. I smile into them and as I always do, I remember that she is very much alive still, just not in a place where I can touch her and draw her close. So I do the next best thing.
I take her picture, and cradle it close against my heart.