Since my son died in 2005, I have felt an incredible burden to continue doing things I know he would want to do with his daughters. Chad absolutely adored his girls and loved doing things with them. He loved to take them to feed the ducks, bike-riding, the park. He crammed more things into an hour than I normally do in 6. He loved life. He didn't just take his girls to the park. He sat in the sand-pit and showed 3-year-old Abby how to push sand into a styrofoam cup with her little hand because it would crack if she tried to use it as a scoop. He played on the monkey bars and slid down the slides. He sat in the swings and swung high in the air. He spent hours on the beach pointing out different crustaceans as he collected the shells with his girls.
Chad loved to take his girls to picnic on Mt. Scott in Wichita Mountains. There, he would hike through the boulders. When they tired, he'd rest beneath the gnarled trees and stare at the clouds. He was infatuated with life. He shared that infatuation with perfect patience when it came to his daughters. He often stopped along the roadway and picked wildflowers with the girls. He climbed trees with them. He showed them the moon, the stars, and played in the rain and rain puddles with them.
I feel so inadequate in sharing life with his girls. I want them to love life as he loved it. I want them to see life with the same curiosity, pleasure, expectation, and joy that he did. I want them to know that side of life in all its fullness. However, as I age, there is less and less of me able to do this. I often wonder if my efforts are enough. I wonder if I am foolish to want this for them. I wonder if I'm stuck in some kind of psychotic frenzy of grief-reconciliation.
When I took the girls on a walk through the woods at our new house, I wanted them to capture a chunk of joy and happiness as we went. I didn't know if what I'd show them would matter at all. I knew Abby, ten, would enjoy the fallen trees I'd discovered. I knew she'd love to climb them. I believed Brooklyn would, as well. However, Brooklyn is now fourteen. Her life is full of social interaction, soccer, track, basketball, and volleyball. Grass does not grow beneath her feet. Would a walk through the woods mean anything to her? Would she be bored? Was I foolish to want to share what I felt their dad would have wanted to share with them? Could I connect? Chad's words echoed in my mind, "They don't need alot to entertain them, Mom. They love little things."
Those are some of the thoughts running through my mind as they both climbed tree-trunks and balanced themselves as if on tightropes. I showed them a thorn-tree with 6-inch thorns. As we walked further, we found more thorn trees.
Brooklyn found a shovel at the shack in the woods that her cousin had built. She found pleasure in digging into the thick layers of grey and adobe colored Oklahoma clay earth. I snapped pictures of giant billowing cumulus clouds in the background of their explorations. We laughed, we talked, we reminisced. I felt happy. I knew they were, too.
Just as we were about to leave, I spotted a rock on the ground. It was tan with an imprint of adobe red in the center. It was an abstract heart. I felt like the Lord put that heart right there, just for me to find that very moment in time. It was like God was whispering. Yeah...Chad is glad you're doing this, my child. Help his girls see the joy of little things in life. Of quiet times. Of nature's peace and My handiwork. Remind them that I am good, I am with them in every area of their lives. And remember: "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21 Remind them of that, too. selahV