After a long, tiring day at work I left early for home. I felt too depressed and overwhelmed as I drove past a beautiful maple tree just turning colors in the fall. Most other trees had already shed their leaves for the winter. The lone maple made me smile and I turned back to sit in its shade for a while. The tree was in a little park that had a pond with geese swimming in it. A luxury they will not be able to enjoy much longer in winter. Watching these beautiful birds play in the water, blissfully unaware of the approaching winter made me shed a few tears of lamentation. I feel so lost at times and it’s like every good deed and loving relationship stings me in the end. As I thought of so many painful memories my cheeks were wet with warm tears. I clumsily looked for a tissue to wipe my face.
I heard a tiny voice right next to me, “Why are you crying? Are you hurt?” There was a sweet little girl, no older than five years, standing right next to me holding a zip lock bag with breadcrumbs in her hand. I smiled at the worried look on the child’s face and said, “No, I was just a little sad today. She said, “Why?” I sighed and looked for a simple explanation to give my gentle friend. “Because today is my Dad’s birthday and he is not with me.” She processed my answer for a minute and said, “Is he at work?” Why don’t you tell Mommy to call him?” I smiled again. “No darling, he is with God and Mommy cannot call him either.” She instantly replied, “Then why don’t you ask God to let you talk to him? Just tell him I will say Happy Birthday and I love you and I will be a good girl. ” I laughed heartily at the child’s innocence. “Well that is a great idea, you know what I will do just that. Thank you for helping me. What is your name?” She watched me as I cheered up and showered her with words. “My mommy says I should not talk to strangers, are you a stranger?” I said, “No, I am Amber, I am not a stranger. You can tell me your name and ask Mommy if it’s okay to talk to me.” She looked behind us and I saw an elderly lady keeping a keen eye on us. I waived and she waved back. The child broke into infectious laughter. “Grandma knows you!” I said well when we are done talking we can go say hi to your grandma too.
As we sat there feeding the ducks, the child taught me a very valuable lesson that I often tend to forget. She said,” You are not sad any more, are you?” I smiled and said, “I was sad until you came here and now even though I am still hurting in my heart but not so much. Thank you for being my angel friend.” She looked at me closely and asked why I was still sad. I said “because I have not been able to make of my life what I wanted to make of it.” She asked, “Why?” I said because I was always busy fixing the problems of people I love and I did not make the time to solve my own problems.” She asked, “Why?” I said, “Because every time I tried to make a decision for my welfare, it crossed paths with the happiness or priorities of someone I loved and I felt guilty and selfish for putting my happiness before theirs.” She kept looking at my face and said, “Why?”
The child kept on asking the same question repeatedly and I kept answering in different ways. After what seemed like a long time I heard a slight rustle behind me and I saw her grandma had joined in on our conversation. I smiled somewhat embarrassed and said you have the most precious angel here. She looked at me with wise old eyes and said, “Did she help you talk to yourself?” Surprised I said, yes. She said I have been coming to this park with her for two years now and she keeps on asking the same simple hearted questions and I keep on finding the most elaborate answers to complex problems. Children have the simplicity and honesty of a mirror and they help us see the truth without any fabrication or lies. The questions we forget to ask ourselves, our children ask us. As I waved my little angel goodbye and slowly walked towards the parking lot I felt a huge burden lift off my heart. Maybe life is just a handful of innocent questions and simple answers and we make it so much more convoluted than it ever needs to be. Maybe all that seems so pivotal today will not even be a substantial memory tomorrow. Maybe the child within just needs a similar companion to bring out the beauty in simple and small things in life. All these queries and doubts will one day make complete sense and I will breath my last wondering why I could not solve a riddle as simple as this!