It was Tuesday, September 11, 2018, and I had been planning to take Charlotte and one of her best friends to the fair that evening. Charlotte was excited for days leading up to that night, filled with chatter about what she and her friend would do and see at the fair.
I wanted to be excited too, but I was mostly sad. Sad that I didn’t feel like taking my daughter to the fair. Sad that I was sad. Sad that life had become so dark and unbearable that I didn’t know how much longer I could bear it.
That Tuesday came on the heels of a Monday that was emotionally difficult: I had left work abruptly mid-morning and spent large chunks of the day crying (I know, depression is super fun). On Tuesday I found myself dreading the day and trying to figure out how to make it through. I wasn’t scheduled to meet with my therapist that week, but by an act of what I know to be God’s providence, his office called to see if I wanted to take a slot that had opened up that afternoon. By an act of what I know to be my own desperation, I quickly said yes. By the end of the appointment, my therapist was on the phone with my husband, telling him about my very specific, actionable suicide plan and recommending that I seek inpatient treatment immediately.
That’s how I ended up checking myself into a psychiatric hospital in Memphis that night instead of taking my daughter to the fair.
There are a lot of things that are hard about being hospitalized, but breaking a promise to my daughter broke my heart. After I got back home, I apologized many times, and her sweet heart of course accepted all of those apologies, but I wished I could make it up to her. Still, as much as I wished I could have been there to take her to the fair or been there later that week when she lost her second tooth, I knew that my seeking treatment was helping to ensure that I would be there for many more fairs and many more lost teeth. I had to trust that God would redeem the time that we lost.
And last Tuesday, almost a year to the very day, God gave me a gift: He gave me the chance to take my daughter to the fair. Even though it was approximately 200 degrees outside, and even though I sweat profusely and the hair stuck to the back of my neck and my hands felt perpetually sticky and grimy, it was marvelous. I watched Charlotte and her friend (the same one I had planned to take with us the year before) giggle and smile their way through three hours of rides. I watched them share jokes and scream and gesture excitedly about everything, and I couldn’t keep the grin off my own face. “I can’t believe I almost missed this,” I thought to myself. That night I was filled with gratitude–and still am–that I am still here, still living this life of mine.
I may have missed the fair last year, but this year I didn’t. And that’s what my daughter will remember. Here’s to many more nights at the fair.