The girl and I packed up the week and left school today a little tired. We had a big grocery shop to do for an elderly lady and her husband who have long since found it difficult to maneuver the aisles, their legs heavy and hurting from disease and age. We’ve been doing that for going on 8 years now. Eight Christmases we’ve pulled out their decorations from under the stairs, and helped tuck her snowman collection in nooks and crannies. It feels like my own house, I know it so well. She makes me taste her homemade cranberry sauce tonight before we go. She knows I love it and has a small container ready for me to take some with me, so much more the treasure since my own grandmother isn’t here anymore to make my custard and chocolate meringue pie.
We eat hungry at our favorite Chinese restaurant. We like it because they give us so much food that we always have a squeaky styrofoam container full of leftovers to take home with us. We drive home and I always insist that the girl notice. The sky? It is one of a kind, we’ll never see it exactly the same again, I tell her and she looks with perspective limited to her age. I notice, as I get older, that I drink in the sight with a gulp more eager, keenly aware the fleeting grace gift, that each small glimpse isn’t a given forever.
We come home and put on our new sweat pants, scored free because my friend at work thought to give me a coupon. They somehow feel softer and cozier because of that. Earlier last week another friend brought the girl a tiny bag to school, all green and pink and white, doughnuts from a place called Paradise just for her for no reason other than because. These “becauses”, these little bags of paradise and coupons that make things free? The sunsets from God’s paintbox and chicken fried rice more than enough? Sorting out groceries and snowmen collections that mean memories to someone else? These are the currency of blessings. They wrap my heart up snug, the give and take, the cadence of walking steady when we are loved and love well. They make the moments unsure of where to stand a little easier to take. They wipe the sweat of figuring out how to live off our foreheads.
I tap out these words and my phone dings quiet. It’s a picture of my older girl in her wedding dress fresh from the day’s mail delivery. I look at it, and remember back to her wondering days when she was a young girl….where will I live? What will I do? Who will I marry? Her answers are beginning to take shape and it snaps and crackles in my heart like fireworks to hear her voice, incredulous joy at her own good fortune. I think back to times disappointing to her. “You watch. You wait. You’ll see,” I told her, a lump in my own throat, because I loved her so much. I put my phone back down, tears catching at the corners of my eyes.
I glance over at the girl, wrapped in her gray and pink blanket, homework on her lap even on a Friday night because her school is important to her. There’s a quiet hum from the fireplace heater. The washer in the other room rumbles clothes clean as it spins out water for the final spin. I lay here on my couch thinking about my boys coming home soon for Christmas and how I will make poppy seed muffins because it’s Noah’s favorite….and how I haven’t made them in the two years since he left.
These small things? They are my currency of grace from a place called Paradise. And the ruler of it all looks down on me with love.