Girl in the blank space

When it’s finally quiet at night, the events of the day run through my head. The day’s story is like a sheet of filled notebook paper. There are faces and conversations, there’s my job in the city; our comings and goings.

But most of the day’s page is covered with lines of Rhema and me. I see myself dressing her in the morning, helping her in the bathroom, engaging in our daily tooth-brushing battle. I’m giving her her meds, trying to find something she’ll eat, working us both through a meltdown. I see myself talking intently with her teacher or therapist while holding her hand. I hear her sweet voice saying “Hi, hi, hi” and “Bye, bye, bye” when prompted – often the only words she ever says to me in a day.

And then just as I close my eyes for a brief sleep, I spot the little girl in the blank spaces.

All day she’s been there, just outside the lines. At age four, she’s so independent – getting ready for school, lugging her backpack behind her, buckling herself in. She’s playing I-Spy and telling the same made-up knock-knock jokes that make no sense at all and laughing like it’s the funniest thing she’s ever said. She’s praying for Daddy to come home soon, praying for her sister to talk, praying for Mommy to catch her train. She’s stooping nearby like a faithful friend while her sister is on the floor and 3 adults are trying to help her stand. She’s hugging my legs while I’m on the phone scheduling another EEG appointment because she believes that hugs make everything better.

One piece of the story stands out to me. I’m struggling to get Rhema to keep her shoes on and get in the car. The girls will be late to school, I’ll be late to work. In a moment of frustration I’m not proud of, I cry out loud, “God, why is this so hard???”

Instantly I hear a little voice, on the periphery, praying earnestly:

“Dear God, please help Mommy. Please help Rhema. Thank you. Amen.”

Of course, He hears her prayer.

And when her sister begins to cry, she steps over the line and comes to center. She pats a back, offers a hug. Even though she’s pushed away, she doesn’t seem to mind.  “Don’t cry, Rhema. Mommy’s not mad at you. I’m not mad at you. It’s ok.”

I hold her tightly in my arms for just a moment and tell her I love her times one hundred fifty million and more, knowing she might not ever understand how infinite my love is… until she has a little Hope of her own.

I turn back to her big sister – she needs me more right now.  

My Hope knows. She’s seemed to know since she was born. She’s used to it. And, for the most part, she’s ok with it.

(Thank God she’s ok with it).

She goes back. Back to laughing, loving, playing, and praying in the margins.

29 thoughts on “Girl in the blank space

  1. Ah yes, He does hear her prayers — she’s the Angel He sent.

    Sounds like she’s not so much in the blank spaces as you think. How wonderful Rhema has her for a sister.

    I’m a new reader and enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Your Hope is such a gift. God has such plans for her…and when she’s praying like that, she’s reflecting what she’s learned in part from her mom. 🙂

  3. This is a beautiful testament. And she’s a beautiful girl with a loving mom and sis. I learn so much from you.

  4. I was thinking of you this morning before your post appeared in my reader. 🙂 No accidents.
    I think it speaks volumes about Hope’s spirit and the solid and loving foundation you and your husband have provided for her. She is not so much in those blank spaces, I think, as much as she is woven into the very fiber of the paper upon which you are recording your family’s story. You are raising a loving and giving child who will bring so much to the lives of everyone she encounters.

  5. I think that she also speaks volumes about the love that she has been shown by your example. She knows all of these things…selflessness, empathy, kindness, patience, etc. from you -you have shown her all of these things and she is being just like you. You are both angels.

  6. I knew Hope was special the first time we met her. I think we were at Lahey waiting to have labs drawn. She came up to me and Lila and told us her name was Ariel, and I completely believed her. Lila will be returning to camp this summer. I hope that Hope will be there again too. We would love to have her over to play. Hope to see you soon.

  7. Hope is an amazing little girl who will one day grow up into an amazing young woman. Someday she will know, just know the depth of your love for her and her sister. This brought tears to my eyes.

  8. This just made me cry. Probably because of how similar Hope and Sarah are. Although I don’t have the challenges with Charlotte that you do with Rhema, I still feel like she gets so much more attention during the day. Your Hope is a beautiful soul. You all are so blessed.

  9. You have said it before, but I will say it again. Your hope and my Mae Mae- well their stories are so much the same. Your Hope……what a beautiful spirit….and what a wonderful mom you are for see her ever loving soul. This post just touched my heart.

  10. OH, this brought tears to my eyes and filled me with so much emotion–joy and hope, heartbreak and sorrow. Your love for your daughter pours out through these words, and it is truly beautiful. God does hear Hope’s prayers, and she’s so appropriately named.

  11. What a tender soul Hope has for her sister! You truly named her appropriately – she is a constant reminder of Hope. Her simple child’s faith is more priceless than any earthly treasure, and her comprehension of Rhema’s needs is truly God given. She is a reflection of her teachings and her experiences and God’s hand in her life. Shine bright Hope!

  12. Pingback: Chicken nugget love « Autism In a Word

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