The Moment in Our Arms

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
Amazinggrace postimage

Soup, and it’s dripping down her chin and I wipe it as a mother would her baby—only I’m her baby, and where are her pills? Lined up neat by my father in a green tray, the ones for Lunch and she cannot swallow, and it’s one of those days. She’s staring at a robin pecking birdseed outside the kitchen window and her head is bobbing, eyes as blue as her sweater and her pants.

The air is so still, too still, it seems dead. So I’m at the CD player pressing play, and it’s worship music. I no longer sing, me home to care for Mum with brain cancer, me who begs for a miracle and sees none after seven years of tumor. Mum reaches out for a hug— she who home-schooled for hours at wooden table, the same table I feed her at, the one scattered with books unread, envelopes unopened, her blue ink lopsided on slips of paper reminding her what day it is.

Her arms are loose around my neck and I’m helping her across the carpet that needs cleaning, and her diaper pokes white and her head is still bobbing. And suddenly we stop. I tug gentle but no, she wants to stop and her feet begin to tap and her body, sway. Out of her mouth the same words as the CD, and she hasn’t spoken in two days. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…

Her slippered feet moving, shaky, slow, face white as an angel I see the little girl who took ballet lessons in England. The little girl who quit ballet lessons when they told her she was an elephant, who ran home in torn stockings to a mother who shrugged her shoulders, the little girl who cried her dreams to sleep and never danced again. Until now.

She can’t walk or talk but there is this swaying in pink slippers, this stumbling pirouette.

Outside, the robin nods his head, his chest all red, and flies into a sky peeling peach. The sun is rising in this room that smells faintly of urine, this room where dishes stack high and laundry lies unfolded, this room where plants curl brown.

She’s singing in a voice she used to save for church, a voice that sounds to heaven of a broken woman and I’m harmonizing as she moves in my arms.

This moment. Her voice, and mine, singing grace together. How sweet the sound.

Image by Kelly Sauer. Used with permission. Post by Emily Wierenga, author of Save My Children: The Story of a Father's Love.