“I think I need to travel far away,” she said to me as she sat in my arms, cradled snugly against my chest. “I think I need to go so far away that I’m lost.”
“Why do you want to do that, Amelia?”
“Then I will know if I can be lost and not afraid.”
I didn’t say anything. I just listened.
“Then I need to know if I can find my way back home again to you and the others.”
“Why do you need to know that, Amelia?”
She looked far off into the morning sunrise. “Because if I can make it back, then it means I really do belong here after all, and I will never need to go away ever again.”
“And if I can’t make it back, then that means something else. I don’t know what it will mean, but if it happens like that, then I will know.”
She looked at me to make sure I wasn’t angry or disappointed with her.
“What if I find out I belong somewhere else…even though my heart would be broken to never see you and the others ever again? It could be like that. You know?”
Then she said what troubled her the most. “What if I find I want to come back but can’t?”
“Amelia, you have been thinking about these things for a long time, haven’t you?”
“Yes. Yes, I have.” There was a silence all around us. Then she asked, “What do you think?”
“You should never make a decision out of fear…not a decision to be part of our family here, or a decision to remain, or a decision to go away. Love and fear don’t ever belong together.”
Amelia thought over these words carefully.
“I think you have to do what your heart is telling you to do. Either way, my heart will be broken. But you know that already, don’t you?”
“What do you mean?”
“If you don’t travel far away enough to answer all those questions, you will never be at peace. I don’t think you would be happy not knowing. Your unhappiness would break my heart even though I still had you here with me.”
“And if I traveled far away?”
“My heart would be broken every minute you are away, but I would know you are doing what you have to do, and that would make me happy for you, and so the pain would not be as bad.”
“Would you wait for me to come back?”
“Oh, yes. Without a doubt. I would wait for you and watch for you every day.”
“You realize I might not come back? And that you would be waiting for nothing?”
“No. I wouldn’t be waiting for nothing. You are so much more than nothing. I love you, Amelia. You know I would fly with you if I could, don’t you?”
“Yes. I know that now.”
“Do you need for me to help you pack? Is there anything you want to take with you?”
“No. I don’t really own anything other than myself.”
“Yes, I know. But I thought you might want to carry a little container of sunflower kernels with you. They are small, but they have a lot of energy in them that you might need.”
“Can I decide later? Maybe tomorrow?”
“Yes, of course you can. Take as long as you need.”
I held her closer.
“Would it be alright if I give you a good-bye kiss on the head now? I don’t want to forget later. And you might find that the time to leave is when I’m not here.”
“Yes, I guess that would be okay,” she said.
We both closed our eyes, not wanting the moment to end. “You are so much more than nothing,” I whispered in her ear.
My Life With Gracie (and especially Amelia) taught me never to make a decision out of fear…only out of love.
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