Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blackboard Blessing

Every year when spring is just around the corner, we snap a pair of overalls on our second son, strap a backpack filled with toys onto his back and head over to our local clinic for an appointment that starts at dawn and sometimes lasts into the evening.  Judah was born with a cleft lip and received a corrective surgery that was done when he was three months old.  Until he turns eighteen, he is required to attend a cleft lip follow up clinic each year.

These appointments are usually repetitive and boring: specialist examining his eyes, ears, nose and mouth to verify his development continues to track on schedule.  At the end of each meeting, they smile at us and declare, “Your son is perfectly normal, Mr. and Mrs. Cole.”  I grin back at them and assure them, “He is anything but normal, doctor, but you’re right that he is just perfect.”, which is exactly how I like it.
Today was “Cleft Lip Checkup Clinic” day and after hours of waiting and seeing doctors, I plopped down in yet another specialty department’s waiting room, blowing my bangs out of my eyes with an exhausted sigh.  Judah scooted next to me and begin sorting through his backpack, what’s a bored boy to do; puzzles, eat play-do, squish more cookies into the carpet or read his favorite book upside down again?  
“Hey, wanna come play with me?”  A boy with a broader vocabulary and a couple more inches on my three year old invited Judah to join him at a huge, wall-mounted chalk-board with a wave of his hand.

“Sir!”  (translation: sure!) Judah replied.

I immediately noticed a prominent scar over the lip of the cute little six or seven year old boy that was sharing his chalk and excitement with my boy that also has a scar over his lip.  The friendly boy’s pretty mother had also collapsed into a lovely plastic mold they call a “chair”, and she looked as exhausted as I felt.
“We’re on our last appointments for the all-day-clinic,”  I smiled at her, hoping to engage in some conversation while we waited, “How ‘bout you guys?”

She looked surprised at first, “We are too…your son had a cleft lip also? You can’t even tell.”

“Yes, he had a great surgeon for the repair.  Your son’s repair looks wonderful too!”

The mom shrugged, “It’s been hard.  He had a cleft palette as well and now that he has started school, some kids have been mean to him as the palette is still partially open and it’s hard for him to eat food without some problems.”  Her eyes seemed to be staring at a recent memory and I could sense her pain from across the waiting room.

“That must be difficult, I’m sorry to hear.  His speech sounds incredible though!”  While her son and Judah laughed and drew together, his mother and I began to share our stories about our precious boys when my own little miracle interrupted us with some all-important news.

“Me has to go PEE PEE!!”  Anyone with a freshly potty-trained kid knows you never second-guess a request like this.

“We’ll be right back,” I smiled ruefully at the pair as we hurried down the hall to the rescue mission, also known as the restroom.

While Judah did his business, my brain was filling up with plans.  What a great mom that lady must be to that sweet little guy, I thought.  What could I say to encourage her?

With a flush of the toilet Judah had finished his business and I began helping him wash his hands. 
Dear Lord, I thought, let me somehow encourage and bless this lady who seems so discouraged.  Give me Your words.  

Side note: I don’t always pray in the bathroom, sometimes I just check to make sure there isn’t any spinach in my teeth, discover there is, then spend the rest of the time freaking out as I remember all the places I’d been and the people I had talked to!

“Wed-y!” (translation: ready) Judah grabbed my hand as we returned to the waiting room.

My heart sank when I saw the room was empty, they must have been called back to their appointment.  There goes my chance to bless that mom, I thought.

It was then I saw it: a beautifully messy chalk note carefully drawn by a little writing-rookie-in-training.  It was simple yet sweet, “YoU aRE My FrinD JUdA  ThAnk Yu anD GOd byE.”

Tears sprang to my eyes as I crouched down next to my little overall-clad guy and read him the message left by his new found friend.  Once again, God takes me by surprise.  At times I think I have it all figured out.  I think I know who is going to be getting blessed and who will doing the blessing when it seems He smiles in Heaven and says to me,

“My blessings to you come when you least expect them.  Sometimes, the people you think YOU will bless end up being MY blessings for you.”

Gosh, I love God-surprises.

1 comment:

Bringing up babies said...

Brought tears to my eyes! Judah probaly just blessed that boy as well, for being a friend and not a bully!