It was a beautiful sunny day, and we were enjoying a picnic lunch at one of the few remaining parks I know of in our state with a merry-go-round. My three oldest were running around, spinning, and hopping off and on it until they were dizzily laughing that contagious, “I can’t stop laughing” kind of laugh.
From my perch at a nearby picnic table, I noticed an older couple in a wheelchair-enabled van preparing a child to get out in her wheelchair. I could see she was thoroughly handicap, with arms and legs gaunt and stiff from a lifetime of non-use. It was obvious she needed fulltime care. They got her set just right and after about 20 minutes of preparation, headed toward the playground, directly to my kids and the merry-go-round… Almost as though that was the only reason they’d come here.
Our children stopped their laughing, slowed down, and learned the girl’s name was Hope, that she had a big smile, and she screamed when she was happy, especially when she was invited to ride with them.
Her father took her gently from her chair, held her in his arms and sat on the now still merry-go-round. As my hubby started pushing slowly, I saw Hope’s legs kicking and her voice raised into shrieks of happiness. My kids, innocently curious and in awe, participated in the joyful scene with smiles and acceptance of their own. This was a kid, just like them. She couldn’t run or talk or play like them, but she was a like them – innocent, happy, made for a special purpose, and they didn’t mind at all that their dizzying world had slowed for her special needs.
After a few minutes, the dad and Hope got off, settled her back in the wheelchair and left. Maybe ten minutes they’d been there, and they were gone. Our one moment with Hope.
My mama heart was overwhelmed and tears flowed freely behind my sunglasses as thoughts and questions raced through my brain. How is it that one family has four healthy children, and another has one severely handicapped girl? How is it that I ever complain about my role as mom when my kiddos are able to run through the dirt, paint messy pictures, and make loads of laundry with their active play? Why had Hope come to that park, and why did she disappear so quickly?
I could only sit, humbled, and give thanks. We’d just been given a glimpse of Hope – of Innocence, unconditional love, and pure Joy. We all left feeling like we’d just been given a special moment from God.
We’d seen a father who loves his girl enough to give her good gifts, no matter the sacrifice it takes on his part.
We’d experienced how precious each life is.
We were reminded that each moment might be all we have, and we enjoy it, are thankful for it, and seize it.
Someday, in Heaven, I expect to run into a girl named Hope. A girl who can run and leap and talk perfectly. A girl who can twirl independently on a merry-go-round and invite my kids to play. And, we will laugh together about those ten minutes of earth time we shared, and how her life, and her parent’s touched ours. And we will worship with arms outstretched, our Great God who makes all things beautiful, who see’s each life as precious, and who loves each of us with an unending, unconditional love, regardless of our earthly limitations.
I can’t wait!!