You would never have known I had purchased the plain black, somewhat saggy umbrella at a dollar store had you seen the radiant smiles emitted from beneath its cover. My four-year-old and I giggled as I wrapped my arms around her like a mother pretzel and made our way into school all snuggled up, holding hands.
Abby tilted her head to the side and leaned into me, smiling, smitten by the beauty of the moment. We sauntered slowly across the lot, savoring each step, making a memory. As we approached the security guard, Abby glanced up at him. She’d never before uttered a word in his presence, but today, she could not contain herself.
“We’re love walking.”
He had grinned at our approach, but when he heard her explanation, he nodded straight-faced.
“Love walking, yes. Yes, you are.”
He and I exchanges smiles. I floated to class with my Abby Mae, not wanting the moment to end. When we reached her room, she pulled my head down and kissed me fast and firm.
“I love you, Mudder!”
I walked back to my car alone, remembering the countess times I’d crossed a parking a lot just to be with her. That particular lot never saw rain.
It stood beneath The Children’s Hospital of Philadeplia.
Over the course of several months, this massive gloomy dungeon of a garage bore little light, happiness, or hope. I will never forget the oppressive, smothering feeling that would overtake me as my SUV lumbered through the entrance, sinking lower and lower into the quagmire of emotion and unknown below. The dim lighting, bland concrete walls, and blunt yellow lines provided no comfort, serving only to highlight my heartbreaking reality.
Parents from all over the world walked this very lot, not knowing whether their child would live or die. The unwelcome enemy loomed around every corner, waiting to send families home with empty carseats and devasting loss. We all prayed that today would not be our turn.
Some have loved and lost. Some have experienced joyful discharge celebrations and have whisked their child away, never to return again. Some are still there.
All of my family is finally home, praise God, but I still remember. Every day I pray for the families going through hospital crisis, praying that one day they would finally cross the horrible yellow parking lot lines and carry their children home.
Yellow is Abby’s favorite color. She loves yellow parking lot lines and relishes the opportunity to balance beam her way across them. I find it ironic how her sunniness often defies all logic, the amazing way she brings quiet out of the corner, giggles to the lips of lonely, and joyous song out of sorrow.
Adversity has made her shine. I checked my watch and sighed. Only 8:32 am. It would be a full three hours and five minutes until I picked her up.
May it be raining when I return.