I was walking in the park with my five year old grandson, Jake, and my three year old granddaughter, Ava, watching them as they ran over a little footbridge, danced inside a white gazebo, threw pebbles in the lake, searched for fish and willingly posed for pictures, when asked. Jake has always been protective of his little sister. That’s not to say he won’t take an occasional opportunity to tease her if the situation presents itself. After all, he is a five year old boy with a vivid imagination who sometimes needs an unwilling foil. But if she needs help or is struggling with something he will stop what he’s doing and patiently help her out, as he was doing today. It’s one of the many things I’ve always loved about him and something I don’t believe he’ll ever outgrow. It’s just who he is.
Ava, on the other hand, is a typical little three year old girl. If you gave her a handful of Disney princess dresses to wear, the same number of dolls, some nice outfits for her to change into occasionally and ice cream cake and cookies, you could leave for a week and she wouldn’t know you were gone. She loves all things girlie and if it’s possible for a three year old to be a diva in training, she might be close. Except she’s much too sweet.
So the three of us were walking on a dirt path next to the lake on a slightly overcast Spring day when Jake began running ahead of us. He had found a couple of tree branches and he was doing his best impersonation of either Captain America, Spider-Man or one of the many Super Heroes he loves to play. In that moment he was oblivious to the rest of the world and convinced he was saving civilization from some dreaded beast that only he could see.
Ava and I were lagging behind, watching him and laughing when I felt her little hand reach up into mine and hold it tightly. When I looked down she was smiling up at me. Then she leaned her head against my arm and giggled. It was a moment. And it was a lifetime.
You can’t plan the things in life that take your breath away. You just can’t. The moments that are imprinted on your heart for a lifetime happen when you least expect them, even when you think you know what’s coming, even when you believe you’ve experienced all there is to see or feel. I’ve learned that lesson by living with a special love most of my life and three amazing gifts we’ve shared together. So I didn’t think there was much more out there that could surprise me or fold me in half.
And then a little three year old princess slipped her hand in mine and smiled up at me.
You don’t speak when life takes your breath away, even if you could. You just thank God for putting you there. Because really, what can you possibly say to make the moment any better?