I kissed him on the head and tousled his hair. I zipped up his coat and handed him a baggie with snacks. Always. He always carried snacks with him “just in case”. Jeff was taking all the kids birthday shopping for me and giving me the gift of a few minutes of quiet alone time.
I had just whispered birthday ideas to Jeff as he headed out the door. Brave man, he was taking a five-year-old, three-year-old and five-month-old shopping for my birthday. He is always so good at guiding them to special gifts for mommy.
I stood in the kitchen and waved to them as they stepped out into the old. The image is, I hope, imprinted into my mind forever. I don’t know why I slowed down. I don’t know why I paused for that moment. I have no idea what made me watch them. Taking mental notes of the way my little ones walked, their smiles, the way he glanced back before he followed his daddy.
Thao’s coat was too big. I bought it so it would last for two seasons. The little things. His hair was shaggy then, he wanted to grow it out. His eyes always sparkled, but I knew he was sick.
How could I have known how sick he really was?
How could I have know that would be one of the last?
What good would it have been anyway?
If I had really known. What would I have done except maybe cry through the day, lamenting the last of all the things? Maybe it’s better to have not known. Now I have fond memories of normal. Normal days. Normal moments. Normal mom things.
Now I can think about those quiet moments I had and think that maybe the Lord was preparing my heart. Because I was not one to slow down. I was not one to pause. I was not one to be still.
And yet, throughout that year, moment by moment, He whispered grace to me. He called me in and held me close. He taught me to open my eyes to those of my children. He taught me to let myself get down, kneel down, lay it all at His feet. He taught me to notice the moments with my little ones. And to long for Him more.
I’m not really sure how God got through to my heart in those months leading up to the hospital, but I’m pretty sure it was just the consistent gentle whisper. I’m pretty sure it was through my kids. I’m pretty sure God was planting seeds in me through my Thao and his sincere observations about life and heaven and God and love.
This season always takes me back. The sounds, the smells, the sight of bare trees. Thanksgiving and my birthday, cheesecake and rice chex cereal. Chocolate chip pie and candles. Coats hanging off little shoulders, baggies full of snacks. Baking and remembering.
And listening to that whisper of grace.
Don’t ignore that whisper, friends. I beg you. Lean in, fight the urge to get it all done.
Sit down. Pause. Be still.
I am pacing myself to get all the things done, and slowing down to remember. I’m pausing to be still and be present. I’m thankful for the moments I’ve had and the moments yet to come.
I’m taking pictures of the everyday.
I’m rolling the ball to my baby.
I’m snuggling close to the cold seven-year-old all wrapped in a blanket.
I’m watching the show with the ten-year-old.
I’m listening to the story.
I’m watching them play legos.
I’m rejoicing. I’m here another day. Tomorrow is not promised and today is a gift.