Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child…”
The air mattress lay like a rubber raft in the middle of the living room, calling me to a short night but much needed sleep.
I was exhausted from ten days of giving care to my disabled daughter and her three children while their father was away. My son-in-law had safely returned and I found myself sad to leave, yet eager to get back to my own home. My back hurt from the daunting task of deep cleaning, hard lifting and emotional caring in my role of mom and grandma. Losses from the brain stem mass my daughter experienced eight long years ago, tempted me to question, complain and fear. Somewhere between bittersweet and plainly bitter, I prepared for my last night before flying home.
“Grandma, I want to sleep with you,” a soft voice said at my side. Little pink painted fingernails tapped together, excited with anticipation of a grandma sleepover. I looked at the cute upturned nose, her little being packed with bounce and energy. Hopeful eyes begged mine.
Something akin to, “Over my dead body, dear” chased through my brain like a roadrunner. However, I mustered sugar (the fake kind in pink and yellow packets) and replied, “I don’t think either of us would get much sleep that way.”
Startled by a loud clang from the corner, I turned to see Cooper, the mammoth Labrador roll from stomach to back in his kennel. His four huge paws hung limp in the air. He yawned a loud dog yawn, his mouth a cavern big enough to swallow the whole bucket of Legos that perched on the wire cage above him.
“And then there is Cooper,” I reminded myself. I tried to imagine sleeping with a dog that snored, crashed and I do believe talked in his sleep plus a floor full of giggly restless granddaughters.
Not gonna happen.
The littlest of the three blonde beauties perked up at her sister’s request. “Me too,” she ran over to me and stretched her silken arms around my neck. Her long white hair glowed like a halo.
Inches from my nose she nodded, “I’m gonna go get my blankets.” Co-conspirator confidence sparkled from blue eyes. Those melting arms slipped off my neck and she started off at a run to her room.
“Whoa, Chica,” I called. “I don’t think so.”
I’d lost her.
Granddaughter number one was already in mom negotiation in the master bedroom.
Confident to leave the matter in my daughter’s hands, I headed for the bathroom and started the get-to-bed process. Pre-flight jitters wound me tight and I wondered if I’d be able to sleep at all.
Running footsteps pounded down the hallway and stopped outside my door. “Mommy says it’s ok, if you say so! Please!”
I hadn’t expected that. Instead of dissipating, the plot had thickened. I headed toward my daughter already in bed, to confirm the insanity. I leaned over where she lay.
“Just if you want to,” she mouthed, a few breathy pieces of the words audible. When she’s tired it’s particularly difficult for her to form words or for her diaphragm to push sufficient air making it hard for her to communicate, and difficult to understand.
I opened my mouth to protest when I heard those fightin’ words at my elbow, “Grammy lets us sleep with her.”
I clamped my lips together. If “the other one” could, so could I.
I looked into two sets of pleading eyes.
“Sure,” I nodded and marched to find blankets to make up two pink floor beds on either side of my bed. The entire living room was bed.
After much ado, we lay down. The chatty questions slowed, then stopped, first from my left and then from my right. Wide awake, I peered over the edge of my mattress and gazed at one then the other.
The dog snored. The youngest turned sideways and kicked my bed, making air ripple like waves under me. A room freshener swished scent every few minutes, a swoosh to accompany the kick in and cut off of the AC. The steel kennel clanged. I rolled from side to side on my raft, trying to lessen the twisted pain in my back, I imagined the other grandma lying where I was, a smile on her sweet face, having the time of her life.
“…they brought little children to Him that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased…”
With each left and right I gazed, and somewhere in the misery of the night, those black lashes against porcelain skin broke my inward grumbling.
The transformation began.
“Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them…”
Sweetness surrounded me on either side. Deep dream-breathings of my grandchildren stroked the room like a caress. The moment held treasure, a slice of preciousness in time never to be repeated. My heart thawed and opened to receive the gift.
I became the child.
I marveled in the privilege of time and place in a Sovereign blink of eternity.
“And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.”
I rolled to one side and prayed over my granddaughter. I turned to the other and prayed over her.
“…for of such is the kingdom of God.”
I spent the night partly asleep, mostly awake, talking to my Father, and embracing the trust of a child at peace knowing the Presence of Christ over our mess of blankets and tousled heads.
My predictions ran true. Early the following morning I boarded the plane bone weary, but overwhelmingly grateful, depleted yet full, and tucked in my heart went with me the memory of a night spent with the angels.
( Scripture taken from passages in Mark. 10:13-16 NKJV)