"A friend loves at all times." Proverbs 17:17
Just before lunch on Friday, July 30th, 2010, I left my three monkeys with my friend Courtney. I was running to the OB for my ultrasound appointment. I was supposed to be back by two-ish.
Courtney was a friend from church. She was employed part time and we had an empty apartment in our garage. We figured it was a win-win for us all. Courtney lives in the garage & hangs out with us, helping mama in her off hours. It became an especially great plan when I got pregnant and became completely miserable most of the time. Because Courtney worked her real job in the mornings, she could hang out with the babies in the afternoon, when my "morning sickness" was at its worst. Mama got to sleep through the nausea, the babies didn't burn the house down or play with knives. Win-win. So, Courtney was already worth her weight in gold around this home on that fateful day.
I remember texting her from the doctor's office. The baby had no heartbeat. We were on the way to the hospital. She replied that I shouldn't worry about the kids--she'd take care of everything.
And she did until we got home sometime the next day. The kids were in her wonderfully loving care, entirely unaware of what was happening.
Over the next few months, Courtney continued to come over each afternoon to be with the kids. But now, instead of persistent nausea, it was debilitating grief that kept mama in her bed. I remember just trying to hold it together through the morning until she arrived at the back door and I could go collapse in anguish and tears on my pillow.
Day after day, this angel came and played Hi Ho Cherry-O and gave baths and changed diapers and made macaroni and cheese. She pushed swings and read stories and listened to the sound of the Wonder Pets on TV while she washed our dishes. Day after day she listened to me cry and question and say, "I just can't do this."
Somehow we made it through that terrible season and I managed to be able to mother a little bit more, and the economy let up a little and Courtney's part time job became a full time job and we knew the days of her living with us were drawing to a close.
She moved up the street into her own place and we saw her pretty regularly. And then one day, she got her dream job in NYC. It was such an amazing opportunity and I knew she had to do it and I couldn't imagine how I was going to make it without her here. She moved away and tackled NYC with courage and charm. That was a little over two years ago.
We kept in touch as best we could with Facebook and phone calls and her visits home. The kids missed her terribly and we were always thrilled to hear from her.
A few weeks ago, I got a text. She had an interview back in NC. I prayed and crossed my fingers.
Today, she texted me. "I'm home."
D and I drove straight over to her condo. When he realized where we were, I cannot even explain the noises of glee that came out of that child. Here is what it looked like when he saw his Courtney for the first time in a long while.
Even though I tried to explain she was home for good, my boy would not let go of her for a full five minutes. I understand.
I realized as I watched him hold her that, in so many ways, she was as much a mama to him as I was. She was there to rock him to sleep, to count his little toes, to kiss the boo-boos from when he learned to walk. He was 13 months old when Matthew was conceived and 18 months old when we lost him. I distinctly remember the sound of him waking from his nap and calling from his crib, not "mama" but "Cot-nee!"
Over the past three and a half years, I have many times been filled with thanks for having her in our lives during that difficult and painful season. I've thanked God for having her here, even as I've apologized to her that He asked her to be. I recognize how difficult it must have been for her to continue to come to our house day after day all those months. But I am ever grateful she did because I don't know how we would have lived without her.
Today my guy wrapped his arms around his Courtney like he was never letting her go. I was filled again with gratitude for her presence in our past and filled with joyful anticipation for having her back in NC and in our lives again.
There will never be enough words to express all my gratitude to this amazing woman for her selfless service to me and my family during our darkest days. But I hope somehow that the hug she got today communicated something our enduring love for her and reminded her of the way she brought heaven to the midst of hell on earth for us.
We love you, Court. Welcome home.