I can't begin to describe how it felt to have my family of 5 all under the same roof again this weekend. Big Sister had been at her dad's for three weeks and returned tonight for another stretch of visit, but for a brief 36 hours, we were complete again! For a day and a half, the younger two got a tiny taste of the life they're used to, the one with a big sister to direct the games... For a day and a half, I was able to listen to the theories of an almost-ten-year-old, the bizarre and the insightful. For a while, I was able to coax the laughter and silliness from a girl who has seemed out of sorts during our phone conversations.
Independence Day is always a bit of an oxymoron in my life. The years when I get to spend the holiday with Big Sister are like tiny islands in the midst of a sea of six weeks without her, and I am reminded of how much I long for independence from custody arrangements. Each year on Independence Day, I revel in being another year closer to a time when custody arrangements will be mute, when Big Sister will be an adult, fully able to make her own decisions, able to live by a visitation schedule that she chooses.
I can't blame anyone but myself, of course. After all, my decisions led her and I straight to the lives we're living... good lives, but not ones free from the scars of my poor decisions, decisions with outcomes made glorious through God's grace. Tonight, while the countryside explodes with the sparkle and glow of the celebration of freedom, I sit thinking of the empty bed upstairs and pray for God's continued hand in Big Sister's life and trust that she will continue to grow in faith, confidence, and wisdom.