We sat at the long table in the restaurant. A table full of friends who had invited us to join them and we’d agreed. I looked at Bob and he looked at me over the wiggly, wriggling heads struggling to sit still like grown-ups do. How crazy were we to say yes to a restaurant with three little boys in tow?
Chase especially struggles to sit still (a running family joke given his name), and so he’d sit for a while at the table and then as a reward, I’d get him up and let him walk around and back before sitting a spell again. And I watched people watch him… His shoes are like the shoes of other boys, his clothes and eyes and energy and everything else…and then his white, white head and the slightly faded, but oh so noticeable scar that runs the length of skull and you can see the looks of pity, the politely averted eyes. I don’t blame them. I’d do the same thing. I find myself wanting to run up to them and say “It’s okay! Look all you want! This is a miracle in front of you!“, but instead, I smile, move on and caution Chase not to trip the servers in his enthusiastic dash.
You see, sometimes being out in public with a visibly chemo-worn child is like stepping in front of a mirror. When we’re home or with good friends, we’re just us and everybody knows Chase. But when we step out, like that day in the restaurant, it’s a mirror. Stop. Look. We’re different. This scar says our life looks nothing like yours. The loudest of reminders in the slightest of glances.
And then, a family approached our table. They spoke of mutual friends and places from years past, they knew Chase from his Facebook page and they prayed for him and they’d recognized him. And then they encouraged us with their words and pressed a gift card into our hands. “Your lunch is on us“, they said. And then they were gone.
The gift card sits as a reminder with my papers – you just never know. There in the mirror that day, there was fellowship and joy because of the recognizable scar.
So pay it forward, play it back, make it right, stop to help – don’t be afraid to make eye contact because you never know when you might be staring at a miracle. And you might be stepping next to a battered parent in front of a battered mirror and showing them joy.
Moment by moment.