You can't see them but her cheeks have tears dried on them tonight.
As she grows older her emotions are growing bigger along with her.
My dad and sister made a quick visit to us this weekend. 30 hours here and then gone. She and I stood outside waving until the taillights disappeared around the corner and she melted into a puddle of deeply felt tears.
"I want them to stay. It's not fair we all live so far away! I just want us all to be together again as a family. We live miles and miles and miles away and I just want us all to be together! They left me and now it's just you, and me and papa."
I started to turn us both inside and she stopped me, held me back.
"I don't want to go inside. I just want to stay outside as long as possible, they are outside so I want to be outside where they are."
Somehow these little things pop into her head and always both amuse me and take me off-guard at the words she chooses to express her feelings.
We stood in the cold for 10 minutes before I asked if she'd like to sit next to me on the couch for a little while. I knew she'd be asleep quickly, she was alread exhausted several hours prior.
Until this time the routine good-byes when either we or they must leave have just been part of our life for her since we moved away. I feel tonight marks the start of it getting harder and more painful every time a visit comes to an end.
"...it's just you, and me and papa." we know, kiddo. We know. Everything always feels emptier at the end of time with our families. We wish, as many a parent does, we could just snap our fingers and make us all whole and together again. I wish for you to be surrounded by your Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents and Great-Grandparents - that are all back in our home city. I wish for you to continue your childhood with these who have always loved + supported, to be the best big-cousin to all the new ones arriving. I wish for you to learn to play the Piano from one Grandma, and to play in your other Grandmas quilting rooms. I wish for you to spend time with all 3 of your Great-Grandmas in Spokane. All these and more we wish, my dear. Maybe some day they'll be realized, sweet girl. In the meantime, I'm just going to hope I can tread in these waters of your growing emotions with grace and understanding - I don't know what I'm doing either and am learning along with you.