I see you pushing your cart along, three little bright eyed kids inside. I see you rushing through the store, glancing at your list and trying to meet timelines that make me wonder if the self imposed deadlines really matter. You're middle child pipes up with a chorus of "mommies" and asks you a question I'm sure you've been asked at least 117 times that week. You can tell by your subtle stiffening, lack of making eye contact with him and your quick scripted answer that you've gone over this before. You don't see it as you glance at your list again but I watch his little face go from bright eyes to quiet confusion, not wanting to ask again but clearly still not understanding. Did you know I have three young kids as well? That I've been in those exact shoes you're standing in? Did you know that the first day that I had no voice, no ability of any kind to verbally talk to my three toddlers they asked me what happens when I die? I couldn't answer them, I just had to hold them and offer my silent comfort while trying everything I could to force my body to cooperate. In that moment I was pleading for five minutes of voice just to answer my kids.
What does it feel like to know you can say anything you want to your children, to your family, and to just know your body won't fail you? Do you understand the miracle you are performing each day in talking to your loved ones, in just breathing? My actions have become my voice to my children even more so now that I often can't actually speak. They watch my eyes, my mouth and my muscles, trying to sense my emotions. My children are under the age of six and yet they have developed a compassion for nonverbal communication that I hope I can learn from them. They can see me tense when you are scolding and belittling your toddler for dropping her yogurt and making a mess and they see the tears in my eyes matching those of your child's as she experiences the sadness of not only losing her favorite yogurt but in disappointing her mom. Did you know. That before I go to bed each night I pray that the next day my kids will be able to hear me say to them "I love you?" That breathe you just used, the one that you didn't have to think about? Well, I happen to know someone who is dying to have that, please use your miracle wisely.