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..: stories

..: Impossibly Soft

Mostly I've been thinking about New York, how did I keep up with my mom when my three year old legs couldn't keep up.

Yesterday I was at Ralphs, with Sarah's little sister Laura. Laura must be two now, and she can say "woof" and "meow" with accuracy. We headed out of Ralphs towards the minivan, and I heaved Laura up onto my shoulders so she wouldn't have to make that long walk across the parking lot on her own. Her stomach rested on my right shoulder as she surveyed the view behind us. I did this so naturally that I didn't stop to wonder if it looked strange to hold a child this way. Her father didn't seem to mind. Laura was good, and she did an excellent job of holding my copy of Wired magazine with George Lucas on the cover. (on a side note, George's beard is so hairy I wonder if Laura would say "woof" to it.)

I got to my mom's empty house, and took a nap on the black couch. I avoided using the red pillow because it always scraped my face. I just layed there, avoiding the heat, and trying not to move. Eventually, I fell asleep.

Sis came home from the wedding. Amy and mom talked about her grant and her loans towards the expensive Art Center tuition. She was happy, and my mom was happy. Amy came and said goodbye to me, but I was asleep, or my eyes were closed. Amy left, but mom sat there on the black couch next to me, and touched my hand. Her hands were impossibly soft, like my grandpa's hands were soft when he was on his deathbed: The man who had been described as a strict disciplinarian, nearly despised by his oldest son, had softened in his years, and now his hands gave away the softening that had occured in his heart. These were also my mother's hands, at least today. She said something in Taiwanese, "I don't think it's true that I always loved Amy more. To think of it, I always carried you when we crossed the street."

She touched my hand a moment longer, and returned to the living room.

My dear friend kj reminded me of an old poem that my mom has always had hung on the wall in our house:
One night a man had a dream.

He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Scenes from his life flashed across the sky and he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life had flashed before him, he recalled that at the lowest and saddest times of his life there was only one set of footprints.

Dismayed, he asked, "Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. I don't understand why, when I needed you most, you would leave me."

The Lord replied, "My precious child. I love you and I would never leave you.During your times of trial and suffering when you saw only one set of footprints...

That was when I carried you."
I'm not a father yet, but already I am getting a taste of what God must think towards me. I wonder if sometimes He doesn't really expect a single thing from me right now. "Just hold on to my magazine and enjoy the ride for now," He says. He's not angry, He's not upset, and it costs Him barely any energy. Times are bad these days, I can feel that. And yet there is something invisible keeping me from disintegrating in those waves of emotions that come up the shore and threaten to drag me into the cold blue. Is it joy? Is it happiness? Can people know the difference? Perhaps, like many things, it is only a matter of perspective.

Some days, I'm terrified. Not of death, or poverty, but of wasting my entire life. Yeah, just one day looking back and seeing years of nothing. No friends, no relationships, no eternal investments. Is it possible that my God will carry me through this? Does Laura know she is being carried across a treacherous parking lot full of roaring turbo Eclipses?

Does a man have to die before he can discover that he is being carried by his Heavenly Father?
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