I nodded my head and pulled back while his words of plants, zombies, and mushrooms poured over me. I couldn't help myself. I pulled him back for another squeeze and then covered his face in kisses.
"Mama," Joseph rolled his eyes in exasperation, "I know you like to kiss me but isn't that enough?"
How could I tell him it would never be enough? That this particular Friday evening I wanted to wrap him in my arms, hold him tight, and never let him go.
Like every parent in every home across the country and around the world, I held my kids tighter this last weekend. On Saturday, I turned off the television and shopped for Christmas presents. I baked muffins. I lay down and snuggled into a rainy day nap with Elizabeth. I gathered with my dearest friends and drank wine and ate food too high in fat. On Sunday, I prayed.
And, as I write this on Sunday night, I know I'll be filled with fear tomorrow morning as I kiss my kids goodbye and send Joseph on his way to school. I know I'll keep my phone on my desk and the ringer on. I know I won't breath easier until they are both in my arms again.
Maybe in a week or two, I'll be able to shake the nearly overwhelming sadness and unease. Maybe in a week or two, I'll be able to watch the news again. But for now, for today, for this week, I'll keep hugging my kids so tight they squirm. I'll lay next to them on their beds and rub their hair from their faces. I'll breathe in their scent. I'll cherish the moments a little more, soak them in a little deeper.
And continue to pray for the families who are facing a despair I can't bear to imagine.