Thursday, March 29, 2012

She Believed in Me

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

I steeled myself as she asked the question I had known was coming. It was normal, new doctor-patient chit-chat. No matter how many times I'd heard it before, I still dreaded it. I was caught in the great societal divide and about to be outed. I wasn't just a stay-at-home mom; I was a HOMESCHOOLING stay-at-home mom. I waited for the inevitable, almost imperceptible, arch of the eyebrow. The one that said, “Oh. You are one of THEM.”

Sometimes I'd make a joke of it. “Ha-ha! My husband pays me to stay home.” Other times, I'd simply mutter, “I'm a stay at home mom. We homeschool,” and try not to recoil as I waited for a hiss of incredulity. This day I fought the urge to roll my eyes in disgust for her. “I don't have a job. I'm just a stay-at-home mom who homeschools this fella and his older brother.”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Yep, there it was. The look. But, maybe no? Her gaze was impassive and matter of fact. She was ready to move along to the meat of our visit without further judgmental ado. In the nano-second that I began to let out a sigh of almost relief, a little voice piped up from the floor where his blonde head overshadowed a pile of Lego’s.

To our surprise, he surfaced from the Legoland he had created on the floor of the exam room long enough to set me straight. “Oh, Mommy! That's not true. You DO have a job. Why - you are a WRITER!” He looked at the doctor. “My mom does too have a job. She's a WRITER!” He failed to hide his indignation.

My involuntary, nervous laugh bubbled up and out. Silly kid. He had to pick that moment to be listening to what was going on around him. I looked up, afraid to make eye contact and sure I was a goner. Stay-at-home mom. Homeschooler. Writer. I wanted to run and hide rather than stay and prove my worth given the three labels now stamped across my forehead.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Though the room was windowless, it was as if rays of sunlight illuminated her face. Her smile spread wide across what had been the proper professional distance between us. She rolled her three-legged stool closer as words began to tumble out in rapid fire succession. “Why, you are a writer? What do you write? Do you write books?”

I may as well have been a snake a-waiting the music of my charmer so captivated was I. The lilt of her Indian accent transfixed me as the bond between us locked tight and sure. I tried not to stutter and stammer as I admitted that I had written a few articles for a regional magazine as well as an essay for a book published several years ago. Yes, I was even working on a book. Her smile grew so bright that the overhead light seemed to fizzle out altogether.

You know, I do not read enough. I'm so busy. Can you give me a list of books? Books that are fun but would give me a window into the culture here?” I got lost in the lyrical cadence of her speech as her world became enmeshed in mine. She, a doctor for Pete's sake, wanted MY opinion and was excited by the idea that I was a writer. What's not to love? Before I left, I tucked my list of book recommendations into her hand.

Son #2 with Poppy - 2011
I've lost track of the years. Three, maybe four? This week, Son #2 towered above her as she entered the exam room. “I don't think I've met this son,” puzzlement filled her voice because she knew us so well. How could there be one of us she didn't know?

I laughed. “Oh, you do know this one. This is Son #2, the one that told you I was a writer.” Her head snapped up from the chart she was examining, and her laughter filled the room. The warmth of her smile embraced us in that now familiar cocoon of belonging.

“Oh, MY! Look at you. You've grown so tall. It is you. You know,” she turned to look at me. “I'm so glad you are here today. I was so afraid I was going to have to call you. I'm moving. I'm not supposed to be here tonight. Last night was my last shift, but I'm filling in for another doctor. I could not imagine leaving without saying goodbye. I thought I would not see you again. Now, here you are.”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
That peculiar kind of ache began to spread across her space in my heart. She would always fill that spot, but it would never feel completely full again because life was carrying her away to new and wonderful places and people. I tried to be brave, but I wanted to cry.

In the not so distant past when I had not believed in me, she had. She could have brushed aside my young son's indignation and rushed through her duties that night of our first meeting. Instead, she became one of my champions. She cared for my family as a competent medical professional, but she was a champion of my soul.

She wrapped up that final medical exam, and we said our goodbyes filled with bittersweet sadness and hope. She accepted my business card with a hearty promise to stay in touch. “I will hear about you,” she said in the way that only she could say it. “You are going places. I know that. I do.”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I close my eyes now on the eve of her departure knowing I have seen her for the final time. I replay the meetings over the years. I see her brow wrinkled with concern on the sickest of our days. I see her eyes twinkle with excitement as she anticipated a new and bright, but different, future.

I don't know what you call this, but the way it has happened has been so strange. I've gotten to say goodbye to all the ones that were special to me. You were the last. I was so afraid and then, there you were! You were here. I am so glad.”

A single tear slips down my cheek. Knowing how life carries us along, I know that she most probably will not keep in touch. The odds are that I will never be famous nor go places. Another tear slips down my cheek. From where I sit tonight, I'm ok with these truths. I am ok because in a moment in time when it mattered more than she knew, she believed in me. How do you repay a gift like that? 

Coutesy B. Creasy
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

Ephesians 4:1 (NIV) As a prisoner of the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the call you have received.


  1. Those are moments us writers hold close. Thank you for sharing this story.

  2. Moments when someone validates our self-worth shine in our memories. God places these angels in our path when we need to hear His voice.

  3. That was wonderful. I was just sitting here thinking that I was going to scold you for not writing on your blog lately, and look, here you are! Lovely, as always.

    - Love, E.V.

  4. Jerry, it was a pivotal moment for me from 2 such unexpected places. I am glad to know it resonated with you!

    Colleen, I almost used a title that included the concept of angels. I'm so happy that I got to know her for the little time we shared. I am richer for it.

    Elizabeth: where would I be without you?

  5. It is brave and important work you do. You'll never know how much your blog has come to mean to me. I truly look forward to every post. I treasure you as a friend, and I am profoundly thankful for you as a writer.

  6. Carole Anne, what a powerful reminder that even though we are to find our validation in Christ alone, He can use others so powerfully to encourage us when we are the most doubtful and ready to give up. Also, it reminds us to be an encouragement at all times to others. We never know when a blog post, a positive comment, or even just taking a general interest in someone can change their lives forever. PS: I was home schooled and you see how awesome I turned out. LOL. Bless you for pouring into your children's lives.

  7. What a mighty God we serve to work out all the intricate details to allow that to happen as it did. Son listening, doctor asking, son speaking up. Your validation came through your son from your Father.

    And I'm so glad you're a writer!