Love Walking

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.

So sweet.

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.


divine playdate

by Beth Ann Morgan

One of the beautiful things about being around children at any stage of life, including times of crisis, is benefiting from their incredible ability to simplify the complex.

While my older children spent the afternoon at a recent playdate, my youngest and I took part in a wonderful conversation in the car. Abby’s smile wasn’t as bright as usual, her happy banter nonexistent as she stared out the window.

I couldn’t figure it out. After all, she was my shopper. My Abby Mae has been known to raise her hands and shout, “Yea! Aldi’s! Shopping!” while passing her favorite store, but today, I wasn’t sure she even noticed the colorful sign.

Then it dawned on me.

“Abby, would you like to have a playdate?” Big nod. “With who?”

“God.” Pause. “At His house.”

We proceeded to have a delightful conversation about how God probably has a big playground complete with slides and swings right inside His house. Her faced shone, and she clapped her hands together in delight, pouring out her beautiful two-year-old fantasies. I asked her what she would do first.

“I want to hold Him.”

I nearly ran the car off the road as tears filled my eyes. In an instant, my mind left behind its clutter of cares like the mother who leaves a stack of unwashed dishes on the counter so that she can run barefoot through the field with her little ones to receive a fistful of hand-picked dandelions and glimpse a rainbow spreading across the sky.

I put the car in park and then turned to look my daughter full in the face.

“Me, too, Abby,” I said. “Me, too.”