My day began on a decidedly sour note when I saw my six-year-old
wrestling with a branch of my azalea bush. By the time I got
outside, he'd broken it.
"Can I take this to school today?" he asked.
With a wave of my hand, I sent him on. I turned my back so he
wouldn't see the tears gathering in my eyes. I loved that azalea
bush. I touched the broken limb to silently say, "I'm sorry."
I wished I could have said that to my husband when he left earlier,
but I'd been angry. The washing machine had leaked on my brand-new
linoleum. "Why hadn't he just taken the time to fix it the night
before instead of playing checkers with Jonathan?" I wondered.
I was still mopping up the mess on the floor when Jonathan followed
me into the kitchen. "What's for breakfast, Mom?"
I opened the refrigerator. "No cereal," I said, watching the sides of
his mouth drop. "How about toast and jelly?" I smeared the toast with
jelly and set it in front of him. Why was I so angry? I tossed my
husband's dishes into the sudsy water.
It was days like that that made me want to quit. I just wanted to
drive my car up to the mountains, hide myself in a crevice, and
never come down.
Somehow I managed to lug the wet clothes to the Laundromat. I spent
most of the day washing and drying clothes and thinking how love had
disappeared from my life. Staring at the graffiti on the walls, I
felt as wrung-out as the clothes left in the washers.
As I finished hanging up the last of my husband's shirts, I looked
at the clock on the wall. 2:30. I was late. Jonathan's class let
out at 2:15. I dumped my clothes in the backseat and hurriedly
drove to the school.
I was out of breath by the time I knocked on the teacher's door. I
peered in through the glass. With one finger, she motioned for me
to wait. She said something to Jonathan and handed him and the other
children crayons and a sheet of paper.
"What now?" I thought as she rustled through the door and took me
aside. "I want to talk to you about Jonathan," she said.
I prepared myself for the worst. Nothing would have surprised me.
I'd had a fight with my husband and we weren't speaking, my son
had broken a limb off my favorite tree, and now this.
"Did you know Jonathan brought flowers to school today?" she asked.
I nodded, trying to keep the hurt in my eyes from showing. I glanced
at my son busily coloring a picture. His wavy hair was too long and
flopped just beneath is brow. He pushed it away with the back of his
hand. His eyes burst with blue as he admired his handiwork.
"Let me tell you about yesterday," the teacher insisted. "See that
I watched the rosy-cheeked child laugh and point to a colorful
picture taped to the wall. I nodded.
"Well, yesterday she was almost hysterical. Her mother and father are
going through a nasty divorce. Tish said she didn't want to live; she
wished she could die. I watched the child bury her face in her hands
and say loud enough for the class to hear, 'Nobody loves me.' I did
all I could to console her, but it only seemed to make things worse."
"I thought you wanted to talk to me about Jonathan," I said.
"I do," she said, touching the sleeve of my blouse. "This morning your
son came straight to Tish. I watched him hand her the flowers and
whisper, 'I love you, Tish.'"
I felt my heart swell with pride for what my son had done. I smiled at
the teacher. "Thank you," I said, reaching for Jonathan's hand.
"You've made my day."
Later that evening, I began pulling weeds from around my lopsided
azalea bush. As I let my mind wander back to the love Jonathan showed
the little girl, I was reminded of a verse from the Bible, "And now
these three remain: faith, hope and charity, but the greatest of these
is charity." (I Corinthians 13:13). My son knew how to show love, but
all the day I had only showed anger. I dropped my head and whispered,
"Forgive me, Lord."
I heard the familiar squeak of my husband's truck brakes as he pulled
into the driveway. I snapped a small limb bristling with hot pink azaleas
off the bush. I felt the seed of love begin to bloom again in me.
My husband's eyes widened in surprise as I handed him the flowers.
"I love you," I whispered.
By Nanette Thorsen-Snipes