Tuesday, February 23, 2016

On the Sidelines

Dear Unknown Woman Standing on the corner, 

Thank you for standing in the grass with your baby, today, as I drove past. You held him upright so he could feel the grass in between his bare toes. It could have been his first time, since he's so young and incapable of standing on his own--and never mind that the weather's been too cold and the grass has been covered in snow. I had stopped at the stop sign just long enough to see your child's delight. His smile made my day.

Thank you dear man, or father, or uncle, who walked the beach and allowed the little boy to skip through the surf. You didn't worry about him getting cold or too sandy even though you chose to stay on dry sand with your dry shoes. It would have been pointless otherwise because you could have never kept him from frolicking in the water. As we both watched him, we couldn't help but share a glance of understanding. Our eye contact and consequent smiles were enough to say we were both enjoying his joy.

Dear Caretaker,

You probably think you're invisible. Your life is tied up in the care of an almost grown child who will never care for himself. You listen to his indecipherable noises, you patiently wipe his mouth, you push him in his wheelchair. I can't say anything to you, because I don't know you, and my kind-intentioned words would be like an awkwardly placed domino- misunderstood as pity or sympathy, and I have no experience to be empathic. So I try not to watch your courageous and patient self, but I notice you, think of you and hope that wishes could be as easily sent like scents dispensed from aerosol cans that read Spring Meadow of Flowers or Citrus Bliss.

Dear Sister-in-law of my daughter,

You'll never understand how I have grieved for you and rejoiced for you. For years you have yearned for a child. The opportunity came later, and we have all wondered within our private-heart-chamber called doubt that it might have been too late. Miscarriage after miscarriage. Two babies who were almost yours before their mothers said "No." And finally, the last hope, a donated egg and science our foremothers could only have dreamed of. I waited on the sidelines to hear if it worked. I rejoiced when it did, and now with eight weeks left, I cry. I've been asked to pray. Your mind is at battle with your body to keep this child in its womb for just a few more weeks-please. You will never know how I bowed my head and plead with tears, how I ached as a mother.

Dear Unsuspecting Person at the Gas Station.

We pulled up to the side of the gas pumps, turned off our car and waited for the most beat-up, old car that ever lived. When you pulled up, we knew it was you. My child jumped out of the car and ran into the store to pay for pump #9 before you finished. We sped off. Guilty. You never suspected someone was watching out just for you.

We never know who's on the sidelines of our lives. Watching, laughing, caring, praying, sustaining.