I See God in You

I pull into the parking lot of the local CVS. A glance at the LCD on the dashboard tells me it is 90 degrees. I ease into the front row closest to the store and notice there is a lot going on today. As I collect my purse before leaving the car, I notice an elderly woman instructing a man on how to get the spare tire out of the truck of her car. A quick glance to the right shows the problem. The right front tire is flat.

“That must be her son,” I think to myself. My next thought is, “Mother should be inside in the store while he fixes it.” I start walking towards them to give my advice and escort her inside. As I get closer to them, I decide to mind my business. “They got it covered.”

After picking up a few things in the store, I make my way back out into the hot sun. I am in time to see the portly, 50 something year old man begin to tighten the lug nuts on the tire. He is bright, cherry red and huge drops of sweat are falling from his chin. He lets down the jack; he picks it up and puts it in her trunk. Once it is stowed, he pivots on the spot and jogs away from the car. In that moment I realized, he doesn’t know this woman at all.

She’s in a light blue chambray suit and bright orange flowered top, with a walking stick hooked in the bend of her arm, and she gives chase. She’s good at closing the distance between the two of them. In one hand there’s an open wallet; the other is waving folded bills.

He reaches the car next to mine and without effort I hear their conversation. She corners him as he tries to open the car door. He turns to face her like a child finally ready to admit they are “it”.

“Take it please,” she urges. “It meant so much to me. It is not much, but I want to say thank you.”

With a broad smile, he instructs her, “Put your money away! Your money is no good here! I have a mother too.”

“But please! I just want to say thank you. I don’t know what I would have done if you did not come along.”

“It was nothing. I am just happy I was able to help. You have a good day.”

She thanks him over and over before turning to go back to her car. He bows slightly with each utterance of praise as a show of respect. He means his words. He will not accept payment for doing the right thing.

“Oh my goodness,” my mind says. “He could have just turned the other way. He did not HAVE to help! He saw her in a bad way and did not look away! Can you see him in a good way and look away? He has to know it meant something!”

Before I can tell myself to mind my own business again, I am out of the car and making my way towards him. There are three women in line before me. “A line of people have formed to thank him for his kindness,” I say to myself. Instantly, my top lip is quivering. He had not done his good deed for money or for people to pat him on the back, but there we were lining up to do it none the less.

One woman says, “If we are lucky, we will all live to be that age and if we need help, hopefully someone like you will be around. Good job! You did a good thing!”

“I have a mother that age,” begins the next woman. “I hope someone would be so kind to her. Thank you,” she says and reaches out to squeeze his hand.

When it is my turn, I reach out to shake his hand. His hands is so large, it swallows mine completely. I clasp my other hand over our hands and shake my head side to side. He smiles warmly at me and nods in silence.

I want to speak life to him, to praise his actions, but I have come completely undone. I am a mess of tears and my voice will not leave my throat. I finally say the only thing that comes to mind, “May God bless you in everything you do.”

Even as I was seeing it, I knew what I was witnessing. It was a random act of kindness. It was a human being rising up to be his best self. He may not remember what he did in a week or two, but as for me… I never forget a manifestation of God.

What I Learned from What I Lost

It is Monday morning and something is not right in my body. Today marks exactly 8 weeks of life for my second child and I am in pain. I have tried to ignore it, but it will not go away. It feels like small contractions in my abdomen and they are growing in intensity.

I pray for everything to be okay with my baby. When the pain will not leave, I switch from praying to pleading. It spills from my heart even as it is breaking wide open.

I call my husband and say, “Something is wrong?” With an 11 month old daughter, I had no intention of having two babies under two years old, but once the pregnancy was confirmed I instantly became a mother of two. Now, one of my babies is in danger.

“With what?”

“With the baby! Something is wrong with the baby! I think I am having contractions!”

“Listen. Calm down. You had cramping with the first baby too.”

“This feels different. Something is not right. This is not uncomfortable. This hurts!”

“Don’t you remember this? You called the doctor last time and it was something about ligaments moving around? I am sure everything is fine.”

I jump on those words like they are the last raft leaving the Titanic. I am purposely letting his voice overpower what I know is true. I need to believe him. I need him to be right.

When I reach my desk at work, I cannot sit still. The pain is so intense, I rock side to side, rolling my weight from one hip to the other. After lunch I announce, “I am going home.” I follow quickly with, “but I am sure everything is fine.”

To be on the safe side, I call my doctor’s office. I expect the nurse to say I am overreacting. Instead she almost screams, “Where are you right now!”

“I am driving my car,” I reply.

“You need to go to the nearest emergency room! Now!”

“What? The pain is not that bad,” I lie.

“We can’t take chances. If the fetus is in your fallopian tube, it could rupture at any moment! You will bleed out and you will die!”

I’m numb with shock as I direct my car to the nearest emergency room. Before I can select a magazine to distract myself, the triage nurse calls my name. The ultrasound shows nothing, so they do some blood tests and send me home.

After two days filled with relentless pain in my body and fear in my heart, I receive a call from my doctor’s office. The blood test results are back. Based on the findings the nurse says, “This is not a viable pregnancy.”

I sit on the top of the stairs, alone in my home. I ponder how another human being can describe my baby’s death as “not a viable pregnancy.” I don’t hang up with her until I force her to say, “You are losing your baby.”

As directed, I go back to the emergency room for another ultrasound. Before I go, I call my husband to tell him the truth. Our baby is dying and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

My daughter is the first to greet me when I get home after the longest day of my life. Her chubby cheek smile is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I squeeze her tight and let her hugs act as a balm on my broken heart.

My mind is swimming with the irony of it all. I hold one of my babies in my arms at the very moment the other is slipping away. My whole world seems upside down.

Searching for answers, I call one of my ministers. I’m angry and I am broken. I need to know what beef God has with me to let things go down this way.

“Why would God let this happen? What have I done wrong? What could I have possibly done to make God rage against me this way?”

“Ohhh, Dee,” she says in the voice a mother uses to soothe their child. “Baby, do you really think that is who God is? That He would punish you by taking your child away?”

“I don’t know. Yes. No. I guess not, but first my mom and now my baby. I need it to make sense. I need to understand it.”

“Now listen to me, Dee. That is not how God operates. There are some things that are God. There are other things that are just life. Death is not personal. It is just life.”

I crumble to my knees and wail in a mixture of grief and relief. God does not war against me. I am not cursed. Death is just life.

In Just One Touch

As I touch your hand, I am trembling with anticipation. Caressing your fingers is like undressing you; each one is a layer of clothes. I am so hungry to have you I want to skip forward to the “good part.” It takes all my self control to slow down and savor this moment.

My body is calling to you, “Come inside and I’ll give you rest. In my arms there is peace. In my kisses there is hope. My touches make this world’s ugliness disappear.”

You are as amazing as anything God has created. You are perfectly human. I do not need to shrink to stand beside you. Your love makes me stand taller and walk confident into the world.

Your scent draws me closer to you even though I want to remain composed. I lace small kisses around your neck and whisper, “The earth is a jewel to wear around your neck. The sun is the gleam in your eyes. Space is shallow compared to you.”

Your touch tells me, “I am giving you who I am and who I am becoming. I will stand unmovable by your side. You are precious and I will always treat you with respect.”

Your breath tickles my neck and says, “I will never lead you off your path. Your dreams are as valuable as mine. You are my partner. I see the greatness in you.

“I will brighten your eyes when life tries to dim them. I will listen to you when you speak. Your voice is safe with me. I am your rock. You are my heart.”

We say this to each other without a word. We give the promise of hope, of friendship and of love. All of this, in just one touch.