Her beautiful, dark, almond shaped eyes give away her Asian descent. They brightened with joy as her daughter flew into her arms. The little girl wrapped her slender arms around her mother’s painfully thin frame and for moments, they seemed oblivious to the world around them.
The little girl’s cherubic face was awash with joy. Her eyes were clamped shut and her mouth open in silent laughter, head partially hid in the crook of her mother’s shoulder. The young mother whispered words of endearment I guessed into her daughter’s ears. Swinging her round, and around and around.
Watching them from where I stood in the shadow of the hallway, I felt like an intruder watching something almost intimate, something I had no business witnessing. Something beautiful, something pristine. Blind, unadulterated, all-consuming love between a mother and her much –missed child. Yet, still, I couldn’t pull myself away. Not yet.
The mother had not seen her daughter in a year I had overheard a teacher say, as I waited for my children to join me from their respective classes.
One year?! I gradually took it in and then imagined walking in her shoes. One year of not seeing their grubby, smiling faces. One year of not picking up after them. One year of not doing chores I complain insistently about. One year of not being constantly interrupted when speaking with their Dad, or of not making sign language to each other for some “quality time”. One year of not screaming at their obtrusiveness, “can’t you see I’m on the phone?” One year of no car pools, drop-offs and showing up half asleep for little league practice. One year of silence….. Waiting, not knowing where they were, what they were doing, what or who made them cry. One year of not having the things I take for granted.
Finally, I tear my eyes away and go back into the school with a big grin on my face. My noisy, unruly musketeers had finally finished their classes. They run towards me making so much noise. Three grubby little children laughing and chatting excitedly about their day. Today, I’m more receptive. I’m really listening and not answering mechanically, halfheartedly. I’m really happy to listen and not pretending to care. I match their enthusiasm and really see them clearly.
As I walk away with my children, I pass the young mother and her child still clasped in each other’s arms and then, I thank my God for my “noisy” little blessings.