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October 1, 2014

ABSENT


The bell rang echoing down the hall into the seventh grade classroom where several students fought the reality of another school day beginning. One girl nervously read through a chapter, pages of last night’s assignment she failed to complete. One boy ran his finger back and forth across his top lip, discovering the peach fuzz that sprouted out of nowhere within the last few days. 

Each student accounted for, acknowledging they were here at the sound of their name called from the roll until the teacher said her name and there was silence. Again. Then again. Three times her name filled the room, a question without an answer in return. A confirmed absence.

It wasn’t like her to miss a day. Her attendance was impeccable, even though her locker would lead you to believe otherwise. A previous conversation came to mind where we both filled the invisible phone lines between us with complaints and preteen emotions laced with hate and disgust and other general statements of angst. An overdramatic exchange that led to utter fear when recalled in hindsight. 

I walked to the teacher guided by my gut instinct and whispered in her ear. I could feel my voice shaking. I don’t remember the words I chose but her body language assured me they had an impact. She stood swiftly asking us to review amongst ourselves for a moment then she armed someone with a piece of chalk and the task of being in charge before leaving the classroom.

The next day came and the roll was called and when her name was announced, she answered quietly that she was present. Years went by without mention of the day she missed and it wasn’t long before I forgot it completely.

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The bell rang echoing down the hall into the cafeteria where several seniors sat reminiscing about their final days of high school. One young woman flipped through her yearbook, faces and memories frozen in time she would later use as a reference of her past. One young man ran his palm over his cheek and under his chin, rubbing a shadow of yesterday’s shave. 

Each student accounted for, everyone was there including her. She pulled me aside and unwrapped the events of a day from seventh grade, a day she claimed I gave her the best gift she’s ever received. A day she skipped school and unloaded the medicine cabinet from her parents’ bathroom; the day I followed my gut and the path from my desk to the teacher’s prompting a call that changed everything.

I haven’t spoken to her in a very long time, but where ever she is I hope she’s okay. She thanked me for an act of kindness that saved her life, but I never got to thank her in return for teaching me compassion and concern and to trust my inner voice… lessons I intend to pass along to my daughter in hopes they continue reinforcing themselves generation after generation. In the end, kindness is the most recognized language and the gift most likely to be returned.

September 28, 2014

FAIR GAME


The smell of funnel cake greeted us as we entered the fair, the powdered sugar teased our taste buds with every step forward and the sight of rides already in motion a small hike away welcomed us back. Last year was Madison’s first time experiencing the fair and she’s been asking to come again ever since we left the gates last fall.

We met up with friends near the barn of ponies and roosters and goats and lambs. We caught up quickly next to a cow behind a wooden divider while our children echoed and encouraged conversation by speaking moo, the type of friendships that allow for immediate updating without missing a beat always prove to be the best. Quality over quantity is applicable to more than just shopping.

Carousels. Slides. Trains. All the important stops were made before my little girl decided to step up to a tent with a pool full of plastic fish. “I want to play,” she said. It’s worth mentioning I’m not one to give in to the pressure of carnival persuasion and can often avoid the games (and the increased risk of losing given the nature of the environment), but there’s something about the brown of her eyes that weakens me.

The lady palmed the bills we handed her in exchange for a pole and explained the simple rule of hooking a fish to win a prize. Madison looked back at me silently requesting help and I knelt beside her deciding rather quickly to support her emotionally instead of reaching for the pole myself. Sometimes as parents we have to force ourselves to encourage their independence by watching from the sidelines.

She hooked a fish, passed me the rod and chose a small blue dog as her prize thanking the lady before she walked away. A few moments spent retrieving a fish for the sake of winning, but it was more than that, it was a chance to see the confidence we’re helping build come to fruition. Fair or not, it was a chance to see a glimpse of the person she promises to be… a game where the prize of potential far outweighs the actual task.

September 23, 2014

CURRENTLY READING : RARE BIRD


Before I started this space two years ago, I read through several blogs in effort to research the community and the audience that comes along with the territory. In doing so, I stumbled upon a blog from a mother who experienced the unfathomable, the unthinkable, the unimaginable pain of losing her twelve year old son in a tragic accident.

Anna from An Inch of Gray told her story with such raw emotion that it drew me in like a warm hug and refused to let go. I couldn’t stop reading. I couldn’t stop myself from moving on to the next post and the next. I couldn’t stop wondering how and where she found the strength to overcome the horrible reality of waking up with your child one day and going to bed that night without them.

Anna’s gift of faith and hope and the remarkable relationship she has with God eventually found an outlet within the pages of a book called Rare Bird. Released three years after the accident that changed her life in ways no one could imagine, it's the kind of book that stirs your soul. If you have a moment, grab a copy (and some Kleenex)... at the very least stop by her blog.

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This post was not sponsored in any way. I've been following Anna's blog for a while and believe that her story is one of heartbreak and truth and healing that should be shared with anyone looking to understand the complex language of love and faith and religion and parenting.

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