I have had the privilege of driving an older friend of mine to her monthly chemotherapy infusions. She has advanced MS, and she gets her treatments at the same infusion center that my twin sister attends.
D has not been around Rhema much because Rhema is always at school during D’s all-day stay at the infusion center. This past week, however, I needed to get D to the center first and then drive Rhema to school.
As we drove into Boston, Rhema made her usual “noises” in the car. I don’t quite know how to describe her noises, but it’s a mixed bag of hums, high and low-pitched vocalizations and sing-songy babbling, sometimes urgent in tone, sometimes relaxed. We have grown so used to her “noises” that I am not even aware of them most of the time. Only when we’re out in public or in a quiet place, do I realize that her sounds may seem strange to others.
It was early in the morning and D was tired, so we drove along in silence except for the sounds of Rhema…
“She said Mom.”
“Huh?” I looked over at D.
“She’s saying Mom.”
“Oh yeah?” I said patronizingly while thinking No, she’s not. But whatever.
D raised up a little in her seat (which was an effort for her) and leaned toward me.
“Oh, O.K…. Um… Yes, Rhema?”
Rhema, without missing a beat, continued to gaze out the window and make her happy little noises.
Was she saying Mom? No. I didn’t hear Mom. Besides if she were going to say it, she would say Mommy or Mama. Not Mom. I never go by Mom. People are always telling me what they think Rhema is saying. But if they knew her like I knew her they would know that she’s not saying anything…
But are you listening?
It hit me like a ton of bricks. Oh Lord, did I stop listening? When did I stop expecting to hear words? Could it be possible, remotely possible, that my baby has been calling my name and I have not been listening?
Just in case. Just in case. I’ve tuned my ears. I’ve got my answer ready: Yes, Rhema! I am listening. In fact, I’m answering her (stooping, looking in her eyes) whether she’s calling me or not. (I remember being taught to assume she’s saying something even when/if she’s not. To answer her as if she is speaking, and in so doing, model and reinforce language). It reminds me of the “Do It Anyway” mantra of Mother Teresa: The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
On the flip side, Rhema may be “doing it anyway” for me. My mother is not going to answer me, but I’m going to keep calling anyway…
My thoughts are drawn to a loving and long-suffering God who does it anyway. He calls out to us to know Him, to seek Him, to trust Him with our lives and receive salvation. In the busyness and the striving and the hoping and the hurting, He is calling. Waiting for us to hear. Waiting for us to answer…
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:2
Update on Hope’s Birthday Cake:
The cake was very well received… until she tasted it.
But she was sooooo excited when she first saw it (and that made it all worth it). She kept saying ‘Oh! Oh! Oh! My Happy Birthday Cake!!!’ After she plopped a spoonful in her mouth her face spoke volumes: What in the world is this??? She won’t be asking for “happy birthday cake” for at least another year. 8)