Yesterday, I rolled my suitcase out to the car, loaded it in, and returned to the house for goodbyes. Typically, my daughter, or her husband, take me to the airport with the kids in tow, and it’s an awful process. This time was different because I had a rental car, so I was saying goodbye right there at home. I wasn’t sure how it would go.

I hugged Emmie and Bobby, and started tearing up as usual, then I picked up my sweet baby boy who will be enormous the next time I get my hands on him and the tears really started in earnest.

Then I turned to Lilli.

Lilli finally has a true grasp of where I go when I have to leave (she asked to go with me no less than a hundred times). She knows not only where I go, but that I’ll return; however, that really doesn’t make the parting that much easier. Her voice was small as she hugged me, and it sounded like she was going to cry, but she stopped. She just hugged me really hard, and said…

“Bye Bye Mimmie. I love you. I’ll miss you, but I’ll see you later.”

Then she ran off to play.

It was a relief to me that she wasn’t a mess (I was mess enough for us both), and, wiping my own tears away, I got in the car only to realize I forgot to give Emmie something. Instead of having to go through all that again, I simply put it in the mailbox and called her to tell her it was there.

After we finished that business, she said, “Mom, Lilli came to me after you left. She said ‘Mommy, I pretended to be happy for Mimmie, but I’m really sad.'”

Destroyed. I was absolutely destroyed. At three years of age, that little girl who loves her Mimmie so much, had put on a brave face when she saw that I couldn’t muster one myself.

One might say that this could be a problem, that she wasn’t addressing her own feelings, or she was repressing, etc. And if she did it all the time, or in all situations, that might be correct. But she did address hers, and had a mommy there that helped her through her sadness. No, she did this for one reason and one reason only: Out of love for me.

There are times when those we love are suffering, and even though we are, too, we have an opportunity to be the stronger one in that moment, and help them be able to face it a little easier until they are out of the woods. There is a difference between living in a mask and putting on a momentary brave face for another, and that difference, I believe, is trust. Trust that the other person will not set up camp and stay there in that misery, trust that they will work to get through it, trust that they will help you through it, too, when they have their own footing…trust in a God who is bigger than both of you to tend to both hearts and lead the way out.

Yes, at the end of the day, you hide behind masks, but when you put on a brave face, you grab the other person’s hand and step boldly forward.

I’m thankful for a beautiful model of a healthy relationship from a bold and brave little blue-eyed soldier. Oh, and also for her love for her Mimmie.


“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow…” Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV