a winter’s night
I was talking to my Mom on the phone last night, getting constantly interrupted by squealing excited kids in the background, who were readying for a sledding excursion with Dad (they had more than 18 inches of snow). Finally, in a mild crisis of wet soggy mittens, Mom said she’d call me back in a few minutes once she got them out the door.
While I was waiting for her to call me back, in the barren, frosty land of Philadelphia with not a stitch of snow anywhere in sight, I started to get a little jealous. I wanted to go sledding.
It was one dark evening when the snow was deep, and I was about 18 or 19. Mom bundled the six of us into the car and we headed to a nearby sledding hill, where we had the whole thing to ourselves. After a bit, Beka was getting excited and so Mom plopped her down on the sled with me. She was only 2 or 3 at the time, a round ball of rosy red cheeks and a huge puffy parka. Now came the dilemma – would she be better in my lap or riding behind?
After we debated, I don’t know what prompted Mom to put her behind me. I thought she should be in my lap.
With a push, we were off, and we were flying.
And then I felt the impact, accompanied by the pain. All I knew was that I was laying halted in the snow, and I didn’t know where Beka was. Of course I panicked… but turned, in my pain, to find Beka having been lightly tossed off the sled into the soft, deep snow.
It had been a log lying length-wise down the hill, under the deep snow, so that my lower half slammed into the flat edge of it. I spent weeks with a bruise larger than my outspread hand – the kind that makes you sick to your stomach. Had Beka been in front of me, and come into impact with that log that was practically was big as she was sitting down, with the weight of me behind… the thought makes me sick. As Mom rushed down the hill towards us and I collected Beka up, all both of us could think or say was, “Thank God.”
That’s become one of those moments that I cling to when I doubt my own decisions, when I worry that I’ll make the wrong choice, when I fear the world that I can’t protect myself from. God is a good, loving, and ever-watchful Father.
The phone rang, and my Mom was on the other end. “I really want to go sledding, too,” I said. “You know,” she said, “I was just thinking about that night when Beka was a toddler…”