Last week, on a very cold and gray day, we went to the hospital to pay a visit to my Grandfather's widow, who you know as your Great Grandma. She had fallen mysteriously ill, and your Grandma, who was going to be leaving town for the weekend and wished to see you before she set off, was spending the day there at the hospital with her.
As we entered, that uncomfortable feeling that I imagine most adults get upon walking into a hospital came over me. That feeling of being in a place both sterile and sick, a place filled with both hope and despair, a place that you just want to leave as soon as you arrive. You, my beautifully innocent child, were blissfully unaware of these facets of the atmosphere. You smiled and said 'hi' to the silently grim folks in the elevator, you stared wide-eyed at machines and wheel-chairs whizzing by, you pushed away from me, longing for me to put you down so you could explore this exciting frontier.
When we found your Great-Grandma's room, she was sleeping, but your Grandma was thrilled to see you, as always. When your Great-Grandma woke up and saw you, she was overjoyed. She was having a hard time talking, but repeated over and again how pretty she thinks you are, and how seeing you was an answered prayer. She loves to play patty-cake with you, so much so that you associate that particular game with her almost exclusively, and when I brought you over to her you started patting her hands immediately, bringing a bright smile to her ashen face.
You and I accompanied your Grandma to the cafeteria so she could get a bit to eat while Great-Grandma got some more rest. When we returned, Grandma glanced out the window and announced that it was snowing. "Great," I grumbled, annoyed. We were short on time, and when I saw the flakes falling, I saw more time to brush off the van, more time on the road to get home, slick roads to drive on, and a whole bunch of yuck.
I got you bundled up and we said our goodbyes. By the time we'd hit the ground floor, you were getting heavy, and I was silently bemoaning the fact that I'd forgotten to bring a sling to help support your ever-increasing weight. We made our way outside, my eyes glued to the ground in front of me, stepping carefully so as to avoid slipping and falling. I awkwardly shifted your weight around, taking care not to let your jacket ride up in the back and expose your delicate skin to the elements.
I drove home impatiently, muttering under my breath that this was Wisconsin, and this was hardly any snow at all, and why are people going so slowly? I kept glancing at the clock as if to keep it from creeping forward. I needed to get you down for another nap, feed you, and bundle you up again to take you to daycare so I could get to work, and time was running out.
When we arrived home and I released you from your car-seat, I once again fixed my eyes on the ground ahead of me, all set to hurry into the house and take care of business. Just then, I glanced at you, and saw that you cared not about the slick sidewalk, nor the nap, nor the fact that I had to leave soon for work. Your eyes were set toward the sky, watching some of the most gigantic and fluffy snowflakes I've ever seen dance down from it. You batted your eyelashes when a flake got caught up on them, and cautiously stuck your tongue out for a taste.
The wonder and amazement in your eyes took my breath away. Seeing you take in this beautiful spectacle of nature grounded and refreshed me. You brought me back to a time in my own life when snow was magical, not an inconvenience to be brushed off, plowed away, and walked carefully upon.
If I hadn't glanced at your face at just that moment, I would have missed much more than the most beautiful snowfall I've seen, I mean really seen, in years. I would have missed the realization that through your eyes, the world is brand new all over again. As you discover all of the intricate, complex, beauty in the most simple things that life has to offer, I will have the opportunity to re-discover them, as though for the first time myself.
"They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?"
--Jeannette WintersonThe world does go on. It goes on because as we grow, we lose some of that wonder. We don't see the difference in each snow flake, we see poor driving conditions and sore backs from shoveling. However if we're lucky, we notice a precious child noticing, tasting, discovering it, and we drop to our knees and get some of that wonder back.
Thank you for helping me to see the snow that day. It truly was a sight to behold.
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