I wonder if the other moms at our bus stop notice that, whenever they see me, I am drinking coffee. Lukewarm (and reheated) out of ceramic mugs in the mornings, and iced in the afternoons. Today I glance at the cup emblazoned with the logo of my former company and remember the day I bought it from the traveling store in my office lobby with the points I’d earned as a thank you for various jobs well done. I was wearing heels. (I mean, I don’t remember what I was wearing that particular day, but I was always wearing heels.) I chuckle at what the me who bought that coffee cup would think if she saw it being used now.
Three years later, that cup is two states removed and a world away from transporting coffee on a drawn-out commute. I sometimes don’t recognize this girl with the wet hair pulled haphazardly into a bun, trying her best to speak in measured tones and driving around her three-square-mile life in a minivan littered with water bottles, coloring pages and coffee cups. I love coffee, for sure, but I drink it now as if for sustenance. If you ever have occasion to be in my kitchen around 7AM, you might overhear me mutter to no one in particular, “sweet nectar of life” while pouring coffee.
The blond little boy in the stroller with the sideways glance and the infectious smile is responsible for the coffee, the dark circles under my eyes, the extra five “nursing pounds” and various extra inches I’m also carrying. Of course, this boy we prayed for and, at times, wondered whether we would ever meet, also deserves credit for the extra laugh lines earned since January and another room carved out in my growing heart.
I look at the outfit I chose for our play date this morning with new friends at the park, an outfit I first wore more than three years ago on our anniversary trip to Italy, soaking up every bit of a gorgeous sunset overlooking the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.
I wince as I note the red rubber bracelet on my wrist, the first of its kind I’ve ever worn. The one I wear now to remind me to pray for our friends’ 8-year-old who is so courageously fighting cancer. Our friends who are facing this trial with more grace than I can even believe is possible. This red bracelet that represents so much fear, many tears and difficult conversations with my children, but also so much beauty I can hardly stand it.
So when I see you with faraway eyes or a distracted tone, when I take note of the clothes you wear or the bag you carry, I will try to afford you the grace I would want. I will try to remember we're all bringing a lot more with us than we ever let on.