Today is Chase’s seventh birthday. In an hour, Craig, the girls and I will sneak into his bedroom and serve his traditional birthday breakfast-in-bed. Before the celebration begins, I’d like to write to you about three significant moments during Chase’s short lived career as a six year old. Since my camera is perpetually lost, writing is my attempt to grab his childhood and hold it down while it sprints past.
Last summer, in my neighbor’s backyard, I watched Chase play a game of pick-up football with a group of his best friends. I laughed and realized that my Chase might never grow into the professional athlete that his daddy once was. Chase never came close to the end zone, or even to the ball, because he kept stopping in his tracks, again and again, to pick up every friend who’d fallen.
One evening this fall, Chase asked to be excused from the dinner table to get something from his back pack. When he returned to the table, he handed Tish a small chocolate chip cookie wrapped in a paper napkin. Tish’s eyes lit up and I asked Chase where he got the cookie. He said “It was Eric’s birthday and he passed out cookies at lunch.” I asked Chase if he decided to bring his extra cookie home because he was too full to eat it. Chase said “No, I wasn’t full. But I had two cookies and Tish didn’t have any.”
At a Christmas party, Chase and I sat down at a table with several friends to eat and talk. I saw Chase notice that my pregnant friend, Manal, was standing and eating a few feet behind us. Chase looked up and said “Manal, please, take my seat.”
These are the three moments, during Chase’s sixth year, that I was most proud to call him mine. And the fact that these are the three memories that stand out among so many makes me wonder.
I wonder if we’ll get to heaven one day, and we’ll stand in front of our Father, and we’ll look at his face and we’ll say,
I’m sorry I never got it exactly right. I never became who I wanted to be. I never became fearless or selfless or patient. I never became that perfect mother or wife. I never lost that weight and I let my kids watch too much TV and I never finished those projects I was always dreaming up. I never lived up to my potential in so many ways, God.
I wonder if He’ll say,
Yes. I was watching. I know those things were very hard for you.
And then He’ll cup our chins in the palm of His hands and turn our faces up towards His. And He’ll wipe away our tears for the last time. And He’ll say,
Remember the day you offered the elderly lady your grocery cart? Remember the night you were so very tired but you held your baby’s hand and rubbed her back while she cried? Remember when you brought food to your grieving friend? Remember when you woke up every single morning to try again? Remember how you never gave up? On yourself, on your friends, on your babies, on me?
I was never worried about those things you didn’t do. I was too busy watching what you did. And those little acts of kindness were the moments I was most proud to call you mine.
Happy seventh birthday to my kind-hearted boy. Thank you, Chase, for bringing me closer to God.