He follows me around the kitchen, the book tucked up into his armpit and emphatically begs me to read to him. Together, we check his chart, he has done everything to get ready for bed and I feel elated that our new system is working. I am making time to read as a family and the house isn’t falling apart. My anal nature allows my free spirit to revel as I snuggle on the couch with my little man.
As I open the book, my throat instantly chokes. She bought this book, she bought this book for him. My mother is gone, she has been for eight months and lately, all the treasured moments, all the frantic questions, all the fearful wonderings have been weighting my thoughts. My eyes blur and I struggle to maintain my calm so I can enjoy the moment with this little one who will not be little for much longer. I want to call her so badly, to tell her of praises to the prayers she prayed for me. The fact that I am sitting at the end of the day, making my child feel wanted and delightful is evidence of her prayers. She worried so over my compulsive nature, my erratic perfectionism to be all and do all.
I have to concentrate, I have to read these words. She picked out this book for him, a book I never would have chosen myself.
The glossy, board pages open and together we use our fingertips to trace, “The Trail of Sam the Snail.” I always thought snails were gross, the equivalent of slugs that as a child I loved to pour salt over. I hated their nasty, snotty paths. I crushed them happily as Mom would dig the depleted soil in our suburban garden. Pale, sandy dirt that supported trees, but barely kept her lovely yellow roses climbing. But she kept digging and I kept crushing. All these thoughts crowd my mind as my finger falters over the rainbow-colored trail of Sam the snail.
My little man giggles and he asks to read it again and again. Tears make rivers down my face and I smile as I cry. My mother loved the beautiful and she taught me to love the ugly, too. I would whine of hard things and she would teach me to sing praises to God, thanking Him that I was someone He loved enough to refine me and make me like Him. She could see the rainbows in the slime, she could hear the hope in the trial, she taught me to listen for His still, small voice as my dreams seemed to be squashed, all the entrails spilling out.
Gross! How can there be anything lovely in this mess, Mommie? What can I do with the mess my life feels like?
She didn’t laugh at me, she simply took her finger and traced how God had moved in the past, and I could see the shape of His faithfulness, His unchanging grace. If He was faithful then, full of grace, mercy, and love, He would continue to be.
My little man sighs happily in my lap and I tell him how his grammie loved him, bought this book especially for him. He makes no remark of my tears, we have learned that sorrow is necessary as healing continues. We speak of missing her, he tells me how he wouldn’t let her die until he had to, because it was time for her to go to heaven. I love his hero mentality, but I know that it is God who let her die so that I would look to Him, lean on Him, trust Him more. Oh, but I miss her. I miss her whimsy, her punny-jokes. I miss how she saw the hand of God even in the slimy trail of a snail. When I grow up, I want to be like her.
What loss has God used to shape you? What was your first reaction?
For further meditation:
James 4:7-10, 1 Peter 1:13-25