Last summer was life changing for my family. We had the most amazing girl come live with us. Her name is Heidi and she had been our babysitter from the time she was 15. She had gone to college, and, when we had heard that Abby would be receiving respite and companion care through Virginia State, I had asked her if she wanted to come live with us for the summer. She agreed. Then I worried.
You see, I’m a creature who needs her own space. I have never been a “girls girl” and have a very low threshold for drama. When we had other people come in before Heidi came, I found myself counting down the minutes until they would leave. I also was afraid that Heidi would spend a couple of days with us and realize she’d gotten herself into a very LOUD mess, and run screaming for the door. The only way it would work is if Heidi was perfect.
And she was. The summer was so great. Heidi marked a HUGE change in things with Casey. She got him to try food outside the rigid handful of dishes he’d eat. He’s been eating the same meals with us ever since. That was HUGE. She expected more of him, of Abby and really, pushed me to be more. She knows sign language and taught Abby the signs she still uses today. She cooked, she cleaned, she played with the boys, and she loved my kids as if they were her very own. The thing I can’t get over was how much she made me laugh and how easy it was to be with her. She came out to be my nanny, and whether she liked it or not, she became one of my very best friends.
She watched all four of my kids for four days while Lance and I went on a cruise. We didn’t have phone service, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t worry about the kids for a minute. In fact, there’s a really good chance that they were in better hands than my own. The day after we got back was the day Heidi left to go back for her last year at Utah State.
My heart catches in my chest even as I write this.
Every time I think about how much I adore Heidi, my mind wonders back to that moment. It was time for Heidi to go to the airport. I did not want her to go. My whole body felt heavy with sadness. I came downstairs to find Heidi crouched down in the hall holding Abby and sobbing. Abby held her so tight, and didn’t for a minute try to wiggle away. She loved Heidi as much as we all did. Abby had even learned to say EEEEYEEE DEEEE! EEEEYEEEE DEEE! Neither one of them wanted to say goodbye. None of us did. The sadness I felt in that moment was more than just a goodbye. It was a feeling that something this amazing would never be the same again. We had caught lightening in a bottle (and for reals, we had actually caught lightening bugs in a bottle with Heidi) and it would never be the same again. I couldn’t compose myself enough to drive Heidi to the airport, and we didn’t have time for all of us to go because we were supposed to be out of the house that same day. Lance drove her as I sat in a crumpled ball on my kitchen floor, ugly crying in a way that I have only done a handful of times in my life.
We moved to Rhode Island and Heidi moved back to Utah. At Thanksgiving, we all spoke of the things we were most grateful for over the year. I watched Casey as he ate his first Thanksgiving meal with us. Tried turkey for the first time. I watched as Abby signed “more” and then asked to watch a show with her hands. Heidi had left her mark on so many areas of our lives. We all mentioned how grateful we were for the short time she lived with us. How much she’d changed our family. How much we all missed her.
Heidi had become a member of our family. We still spoke often on the phone, through texts, tweets and facebook posts. I loved thinking about the joy she brought, but that would inevitably lead me to seeing her, cradling my daughter in her arms as she cried in a dark hall in my basement. That image pained me too much.
But, after 5 tomorrow, that pain will be a distant memory. Why? Heidi’s coming back!
By her own free will, even! There aren’t the same programs for the kids out here (well, there are SOME, but the waiting list is very, very long) so we didn’t think we’d be able to make it worth her while to come out here. With Lance’s impeding furlough, we couldn’t pay her anywhere near what she’s worth. So when she called, asking if she could just move in with us because she loves us, I cried. I’m crying right now. It’s too much goodness. It’s like my birthday and Christmas and every wish I’ve made in the last year all rolled into one.
That being said, if any of you know of Public Relations work done, have I got the girl for you! She’s got her degree in it, is well versed in all things social media, and is the hardest worker you’ll ever find. She’s also crazy smart, articulate and easy to work with. As much as I hate the thought of having her live her and not be able to just hang out with me all of the time, she does need to start getting experience in her field. Also, I hear that getting paid is pretty nice as well. The kids like it. PLEASE, if you know of anything (ESPECIALLY VIRTUAL…please, keep her with me…oh my, I’m getting creepy…) please email me. I’ll love you forever for it. And that’s a big deal, because I don’t like people.