Anyway, we had some time at the airport, so I parked and brought the chickadees in with me as my husband checked in. As he said goodbye, right before going through TSA security, Chickadee #2 started to wail and cry. It was really, really loud. Really, really dramatic. Really, really pathetic: "Daddy! DADDY! DON'T GO OR IF YOU HAVE TO GO, TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!! DADDY! DADDY! I DON'T WANT YOU TO GO, DADDY. COME BACK, DADDY. COME BACK!!!!" Heads turned. One woman clutched her poor heart in sympathy. The TSA agents were annoyed and amused at the same time. I was afraid her crying might get him selected for secondary inspection. He made it through security and turned to wave goodbye. The crying increased in volume and intensity and bathos. In desperation, I sat down with her and let her cry for a few more minutes, and then gave her a time limit to get herself together. Her response: "I'll only stop crying if I can go with Daddy." Um. No. On to Plan B, extemporaneously created on the spot: Let's go to Mount Vernon, since we are almost there anyway.
Mount Vernon is a place that lets you really appreciate the great good fortune the United States had in George Washington as the head of the Revolutionary Army and as our first President. In particular, the new (to me, at least) the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center was fantastic for us all. It is really well-designed and has activities for all age levels and tastes. One of the best things we did was to visit with Martha Washington, who allowed the chickadees to pose for a photograph with her. They LOVED it and I'd go back tomorrow if I could. All in all, we were there from about 12:30 until almost 6:00 pm. And, here is the amazing thing:
I was able to walk around the entire time with almost no pain.
I'll say it again, y'all.
Almost no pain.
You would have to have been me for the past several years to understand why this brings tears to my eyes. I've been avoiding activity and exercise because I'm in such constant and debilitating pain. I thought it would never leave me. I was preparing myself mentally to be in pain for the rest of my life. And now it is almost all gone. Oh - it's not perfect. I had to stop and rest every once in a while. I was tired. Walking back to the car was hard on the backs of my legs and I had some pain last night. But still. It was sweet.
Sweetest of all, however, was the conversation with the chickadees that occurred on our long walk back to the car. Chickadee #2 took my hand and asked me solicitously, "Do your legs hurt, Mommy?" "A little bit," I replied, "but not too badly." She said, "You know, Mommy, you are much better lately." I asked what she meant. Then she and Chickadee #1 began to list all the ways that I am better lately.
"You are more healthier."
"You do stuff with us that you didn't do before."
"You take care of yourself better now."
"You do yoga."
and on and on. I promised myself that I would remember all their little gems of hope but, of course, I've forgotten.
What I haven't forgotten was that they noticed. What I haven't forgotten is that they are worth everything that I am doing to try to be healthier. What I haven't forgotten is that they are God's gift to me and my gift to the world. And I'm working on being worthy of that gift.