Last weekend Esmé and her Papa had a few days all to themselves–while I traveled across the country for the American Epilepsy Society conference in Seattle.

The week previous, when my husband was gone for several days, Ez asked for “Nay Nay” (her version of Papa since she cannot produce a “p” sound) repeatedly. So I figured Ez might also be busy asking for me while I was gone.

What I failed to anticipate was that she might continue to display that she had missed me after I returned.

I arrived home in the middle of the night, so Esmé didn’t see me until she woke up the next morning. She called out to me from her crib and seemed reasonably happy that I answered her. We went about our morning–picking out clothes, doing morning meds, getting ready for Tuesday morning school.

We headed over to school and got her situated in the classroom with her special ed teacher and her nurse. I went and sat in an empty room to get some work done. About a half hour into school Ezzy’s nurse Denise came to get me.

“She won’t stop asking for you Hillary…maybe if you came in the room with her it would help?”

This hadn’t happened before at school…other times I needed to see her, but she hadn’t really needed me.

When I headed in I could see that she was struggling to concentrate…and, sure enough, she was saying “Maman, maman, maman.”

So I sat down on the floor and stood her up between my legs, wrapping my arm around her shoulder. She was facing the other children and she started paying attention to the book that the teacher was reading to the class. Every few seconds she turned back toward me…making intensely loving eye contact…as if to say, “OH, I am SO happy you are here with me.”

Then she turned again–she looked at me for a moment and then leaned in, puckered her mouth, and kissed me square on the lips.

I was shocked. I’ve kissed her millions of times. Occasionally she might pucker to meet my kiss. Sometimes she makes an unprompted kissing noise in my direction. But she has never fully initiated a kiss–initiating and coordinating the entire action.

She turned back to the class, but was back to give me another kiss after a moment. And again, and again.

She gave me five of the sweetest kisses I could ever have imagined. And my heart shattered into a million pieces.  I have never in my life felt as loved as I did right then and there.

Hey, maybe I should go away more often!

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