4.3.14 How About …


I was recently in a Bible study where we focused on the teachings of a man named Bob Goff. He wrote a great book called Love Does, about really living a life of action and intention towards others. Inspired by it, I immediately began to think of all these elaborate ways that I might be able to apply “love” as a verb … and then, reality took over, and the idea of thinking of ideas took the top rank on my, “Someday” list. (I’d like to call it a, “To Do” list, but “Someday” is much more realistic and honest.) Nevertheless, I didn’t have an in-my-face opportunity … until now.

A few days ago, I received an email from one of my students, telling me that CeCe, (or so I’ll call her) would not be in class that day. The girl wrote that today was CeCe’s mother’s birthday; and her mother died last year. Struck by the sad note, I thought of the poem by Edna St.Vincent Millay, “Childhood is the Kingdom Where Nobody Dies.” There is a line in it that says, “Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies that matters,—mothers and fathers don’t die.” Except hers did. Her mother was gone … and in the moment of the email I didn’t let myself feel it; I let myself think–how sad, but anything beyond it I avoided, for pain’s sake. My mother and I are incredibly close, and my whole life I’ve known absolutely, and without a doubt, that I could never have made it without her.

So, I was incredibly surprised when eighth hour came, and in walked CeCe. It felt like I was seeing her, this sweet, thirteen-year-old girl with the quiet smile I’d known all year long, for the very first time. Before the class started, I walked over to her and said, “I heard today was a tough day,” and hugged her … tight. I held on, and then she held on … tighter. When I finally pulled away, she looked up at me through misty-eyes, too aged with sadness for her young face and said, “You give really good hugs.” The rest of class went by … the rest of the day went by, and I came home … to my mom, who happens to be visiting right now. I told her the story and we did the only thing we could do, pray.
Today, before eighth hour, CeCe met me in the hallway, greeting students and said, “Um, Mrs. H, do you think I could have another hug?”
“Of course,” I said, pulling her in. Students and teachers shuffling around us I asked, “How about I’ll just be your school mom?” And she smiled a watery-smile before nodding.

It wasn’t long before I came to remember something Bob Goff said, “I used to think you had to be special for God to you, but now I know you simply need to say yes.” So I think it’s time I say it. I may not be able to change CeCe’s circumstances, but I can show up … like love does. So tomorrow, I’m giving her this.
Dear CeCe:

      I wanted to take a minute to tell you that you’ve been on my heart, and in my prayers. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I can’t even pretend to relate, but I do know what it feels like to miss someone until your life just aches. I agree with author John Steinbeck when he wrote that, “It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” I didn’t know your mom sweetheart, but I know you … and if she was anything like you, then I know the light you must miss.

      I wish there was something I could do to fix the pain, but sometimes pain is love in reverse, and there’s no cure for love. What I can do, if you’d give me the honor, is be there. Not always, like she would have, but sometimes … for the moments no girl should ever have to do alone. So if you’d give me permission, how about we do a checklist for life–together. Though I can’t predict the future–where you or I will go or move, how our lives will change, how about I commit to be your mom-substitute, in just these few special moments. If you want to add to, take away, or change the list … I can be there for that too. But for now, here’s a start …

       A dinner date after your first day of high school
       Practicing with you the day before you try out for your first club or sport
       Going with you to pick out your prom dress
       Taking you for ice cream the first time things don’t work out with a boy who has your heart
       Any mother/daughter days that you didn’t see coming
       To make you a birthday cake for your sweet-sixteen
       To get celebration pedicures on the day you get your license (you’ll drive of course)
       To sit in the audience when you graduate high school
       To help you write your letters of interest to college
       To sit in the audience and cry over how beautiful you are on the day of your wedding

      These ten times are yours my sweet girl. They’re an insubstantial gift of time to help ease the time that was taken from you too soon. But I need you to know that you are brave, strong and filled with a light of amazing promise. You will be more than okay. You are a victim, but you’re also a survivor … and I’d be honored to walk with you on this bittersweet journey we’re a part of. Pinkie-swear. 🙂
       Mrs. H

So readers, I would love to hear how you are “doing” love. Please thread comments below and let’s encourage one another to think, and pray, and do.

Literarily yours,


5 thoughts on “4.3.14 How About …

  1. Elle, this is Jason whom you met on the plane from Chicago to Brussels back in February.
    I made it through my trip to Senegal and God placed a little girl in my life. Her name is Anna Marie and probably about 7 years old. She lives in a village in the African bush with literally nothing. However, even with less than the essentials of life as we know them here in America she is surviving and a happy and joyful individual. God used her to show me how you can be happy without all the toys and gadgets and things we have. And the language barrier that was between us was almost non existent. I was able to spend time with her and get to experience something that I have had a difficult time defining; but after praying, reflecting, and now reading your blog tonight, I was showing her love and experiencing it given back from her. For me it’s so hard not to be able to let her know of the great impact she left on my life, but I have in my heart a love for Anna that grew from the very little time I was able to spend with her.
    I am currently working with the missionary there in Senegal to see if there is a need, or a way to sponsor Anna, or ultimately what I’d love to have with her, a correspondence. Even though thousands of miles are between us the magic of email makes “doing love” more attainable.
    I’m inspired by your blog tonight and it gives me more ideas and hope that I will be able to show more love to this little girl in Africa!

    • Jason! How absolutely beautiful!!! I think of you often my friend and I know God will open the doors of communication for you! Be blessed and stay in touch.

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