Her little feet hit the narrow, windy trail. Her little hand went straight in mine. Hand in hand had become a habit for us due to her ankle weakness. The chemotherapy that had helped save her life had injured her ankles. Holding her hand kept her from falling. She'd trip and then she'd soar by my arm's strength till she landed firmly on her sweet feet again.
Smiles. Eyes widened. Another close one.
But today, everyone had new walking sticks, and she had every right like every normal kid to be excited about hiking with her walking stick. Like a big girl.
Trailing behind her, my hands lined and traced the edges of my thighs. Empty.
These trails were lined with cacti. Those who rode bikes often bragged about how they could fall off their bike and roll just so ... to miss the cacti. But one trip from that baby girl could land her right in the spindly needles. She'd been through so much already.
"Look, baby girl. Do you see those needles? Those can hurt you so badly. You've got to walk very carefully." But you know more than any child should about needles. I know that.
Her sweet knees lowered and capped the ground. "Mama, look. There's a flower."
Oh, she loved flowers. She'd kiss flowers. Flower child, if there ever was one. We'd give her continual reminders that you can't pick flowers in the state park. She was a sneaky picker or brave, in spite of the fear of getting caught. It's truly the quiet ones you always have to watch out for.
"There sure is a flower. Amidst all that prickly bad ... there's something good."
Amidst all that bad ... stumbling, falling, injury, pain, brokenness, all the hard ...
there is room for something good to grow. There really is.
Allow your knees to lower and cap the ground.
Look for it.
Like a needle in a hay stack.
Grasp hold of it without fear.
And give it with abandon.