I missed the noise - I missed the hugs - I missed the absentminded touches that happen without us even realizing it. I missed hearing my name. My life with my two kids isn’t measured in months or years or seasons. We count days. We count hours. Part of our daily conversation is discussing how many moments we have left, until they have to leave again. I try to memorize their faces when they’re with me, because they’ve always changed some how, by the time they come back. They’re taller, thinner, wiser, older. Time has passed for them, but they still hurt. They still struggle, they’re still challenged by a life they didn’t ask for. I have learned a lot about myself through this all...but I’ve learned more about my kids. I worry. Constantly. They never leave my mind. Are they sad, are they scared, are they lonely or angry. They are indeed all of these things - at varying times. But they’re also strong; brave; capable; independent; funny; and passionate about Life. This life. People have asked me how I made it - how I survived it. My answer was always: because I had no other choice. But my kids do. And they always choose the harder option. They choose to try - to not give up on themselves, or on me. And so I breathe them in - just like when they were babies. And I get up every day and I tell them I love them. And that nothing could change that. And I hope fiercely, that they believe this. And I hold their hands when they let me. And I hope they remember to laugh, even when it’s hard. And I hope they don’t lose faith in love and humanity. And I hope I’m enough for them, for now. So when you see these two, smile at them...hug them...laugh with them...be a part of me, for when I’m not there.