* This was written before Lydia and Jax entered our lives, and before Scott left this earth. *
Last Wednesday was like any other Wednesday afternoon for a while there, then my life changed a little bit, and I was given a window of insight into the true meaning of motherhood.
It was a gift.
A woman, of about 60 years, came through the vestibule, wheeling her son into the restaurant. They had visited The Country Inn before, and it was always my assumption that he was born with a disability of some sorts.
It’s the kind of disability that makes one uncomfortable no matter how kind of heart you are. For this poor soul, this grown boy had no voice. No speech. He wailed out once in a while, his tiny arms coiled under, tucked into his frail white body. He had a head brace and flailed about every so often. For me it was difficult to see. I wondered if he suffered.
So Wednesday they came in, and Wednesday this boy (We would later learn his name: Chris) was in a particular disarray. He grunted loudly, wailed, and flailed his wrists. We even had another couple stop us to ask if we’d box their meals up, “We can’t eat with all this noise.” (As servers, we granted their request. As human beings, we wanted to tell them to grow a heart.)
Approaching the table of Chris and his mother, I saw a woman caring for her child. I saw myself in her, “Why are you so unhappy today, baby? What can Mommy do to calm you down?” She looked at me, “Maybe some ice cream?” She was directing her thoughts aloud to me.
“That sounds good,” I said, “We have vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.”
“Mommy’s going to get you some ice cream. Ok?” She said, cupping his head in her hand, “We’ll take a little bit of vanilla please.” She was sure to smile warmly at me, but her eyes looked tired.
I brought the ice cream out to her, while holding my own tears back. My heart swelled to see such love between a mother and a child. I left them to their dessert, watching from afar in pure admiration and awe as she spooned the ice cream into his mouth to the tune of a lullaby.
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.
You make me happy, when skies are grey.
Coming by to take her order, she spoke before I could ask if she was ready, “He wasn’t always like this. You know.” I didn’t say a word. What would I say? I was just called upon to listen, “When Christopher was six, we lived on the canal. He was outside tagging along with his uncles when he fell through the ice.” My eyes flooded, “but they rescued him. They sure did. He would have died. It took them 20 minutes to get him out from under there, but they got him.”
“Oh my goodness.” They were the only words I could manage to get out.
“Yes, when they rescued him, his lips were blue. He aspirated. That’s actually what cut the oxygen supply to his brain. He hasn’t grown since then,” She spooned another bite of vanilla into his mouth, and I looked into his brown eyes, wondering what his thoughts were. Was he that six year old little boy trapped in a completely disabled body, unable to talk, walk, or smile? “He’s actually 31. Believe it or not. It happened 25 years ago, and he’s been my little boy all this time.”
“Bless you.” I said and quickly walked away so I could cry and pray.
And she sang on…
You’ll never know dear.
How much I love you.
Please don’t take
my sunshine away.
I kissed my daughters about a hundred times that evening. Since then, I’ve snuggled with her to the very second she’s fallen asleep at night. If she wants to read a second, third, fourth book, I’ve done it.
Because it’s more time with her. Precious time.
I don’t want to generalize everyone, so I will only speak for myself. I know I tend to take life for granted. I make plans around growing old and complain about happenings that are outside of my control; Petty things that won’t matter five years from now, next year, or tomorrow.
What I’ve never known though…
What Chris’ mom taught me is…
I am not guaranteed to grow old.
Everything I’ve been blessed with in this life…
it isn’t mine forever.
So I kiss my daughter a few extra times before I leave her, and I tell the ones I love that I am happy to see them because I am. I don’t take for granted that everyone knows how I feel any more. I tell them.
Sophie and I have a thing we like to do at night. We take turns telling God what we are thankful for that day. My wish for her is that she grows up, knowing how precious life is and how lucky we all are to experience it.
Chris’ mom has a remarkable love for her son and her inspiration will have a warm place in my heart forever.