Spoken Words

A couple of months ago a friend emailed me for help. She had gone in for blood work and was now waiting for the result of it. Understandably, she was anxious and scared. A part of her email read, “I know you are not a praying person. So please do whatever you believe works to send all the positive vibes my way tomorrow.”

Even though distance remains between God and me, I can easily recall the time when He occupied every one of my day. I would thank Him for sparing my life when I accidentally ran through a STOP sign. I would pray to Him to grant me grace and patience when I was about to embark on a momentous work assignment. I took God everywhere with me. He was only a breath away. Thank God didn’t just spill from my mouth. I spoke those words in reverie — in the second it took to speak them I would pause, as though I were honoring Him with a moment of silence. I even exchanged dialogues about Him. Many years ago, at the start of when Danith and I realized that we would need assistance to construct our family, I sat across a table from a doctor. Grateful that help existed for us, I was in high spirits. The doctor was tall and thin and youngish, with well kept dark brown hair. He and I were reviewing my medical history in a small unassuming room, and after one question led to another, I said to him, “God is sending me a sign.” I sensed immediately that I had taken the youngish doctor, who had been chatting chummily with me, off guard. He parted his lips, possibly to deliver his response, but then he let them rest. Instead he nodded a nod that said, “Sure. If that is what you believe.” His head-nod surprised me because I had just assumed that he would concur that, yes, God had a plan for me. Simultaneously, though, I found it comical that I had put a grown man in discomfort by just talking about God. Later that evening, I called my closest friend and described to her the visit with that doctor, and we broke out into a hearty laugh together.

These days, Nora occupies me. She turns six months old today, and among her small group of friends, she weighs the most at 19 lbs and 8 oz. Anyone who takes notice of her remarks first on her chubby cheeks and second on her warm dark eyes. Almost like what our dog Pluto used to do, she greets me in the morning with a genuine “glad to see you” smile. She is able to sit unassisted for several seconds. She chews on books that I try to read to her, and she jumps up and down when I hold her up. She practices her vocal cord by babbling, and screeching like a pterosaur. She chuckles when I screech back. She enjoys the outdoors and being partly submerged in water. She started eating rice porridge almost two months ago, and because I want to make solids fun for her, I feed the porridge to her while she stands in her play station. After she bites on the white purée she would excitedly stomp her feet, roll her head, and bang on the toys around her. It awes me that my simple act of feeding her could give her that much pleasure. Sometimes, my heart is pumping so fast at the sight of her that I have to stop what I am doing and text Danith to tell him that I love her. My most favorite time with her remains the same: middle of the night. She fills my arms both in weight and length. When I hold her in the glider, she can’t stretch out as straight as she used to, so she fidgets in an attempt to make herself more comfortable. After she finally settles down, I stare at her quiet face — at her closed eyes, her closed mouth (whose bottom lip sometimes twitches), and the roundness of her cheeks. I would let my mind return to those fleeting minutes I had spent holding her sister and brother in a similar way, especially remembering how I wished I could keep each of them in my arms forever. A few weeks ago, as I cradled Nora after a feeding, I marveled at her ability to breathe in my arms. She was sleeping and breathing — I would get to begin the day all over again with her the next morning. “Thank you, God,” I uttered, and jerked up in the glider. I had startled myself. I hadn’t spoken those words in so, so long that the voice in my head that formed them sounded unfamiliar. I panicked, wanting to take them back. How could I be thanking Him? I struggled, having liked how the words reverberated in my head. I missed them. I squeezed Nora more tightly, and I eased myself back into the glider. Then, maybe about a minute later, I lifted one of Nora’s hands to my face, and I pressed my lips into it. And I allowed the truth to prevail: it is okay, speaking those words again.

I still do not believe that prayers influence an outcome, but it is hard to deny what God has given me. I am thankful for both the gifts and for my ability to be thankful for them. As for my friend’s request for help, I sent her hope. Fortunately, the blood work result came back in her favor, for which I am, of course, thankful.