February 22, 2013

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

What a difference a day makes … or sometimes just a moment

Debra TomaselliI slowed my car, glanced over my shoulder, and decided not to change lanes. Normally, I’d sprint through my early morning commute, but not today. Today, there was no rush. No urgency. Today, I couldn’t concentrate on the traffic.

My mind was elsewhere, remembering fun times with my mom.

I recalled the day she and I were sunbathing at the beach with Gloria, a friend of mine. I was stretched out on my lawn chair, eyes closed, slathered in suntan oil. Gloria was reading a magazine, and Mom was watching the waves roll in when they started chatting. After a while, they decided to walk to a nearby refreshment truck.

Mom grabbed her wallet. “Would you like a hot dog?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” I said without even looking up. “I’m not hungry now.”

Instead, I rested, soaking in the sunshine.

Minutes later, they returned. As I listened to them rip into crinkly bags of chips, pop sodas and munch hot dogs, I reconsidered.

“Maybe I will have a hot dog after all,” I announced.

Mom and Gloria burst into laughter. Indignant, I sat up, opened my eyes, and stared at them.

“What’s so funny,” I demanded.

Giggling, Gloria could only point in the direction of the food truck. Mom was laughing so hard she couldn’t speak. I looked, only to see the sole refreshment truck pulling away. Business was closed for the day.

Mom and I retold that story numerous times, chuckling with each recount. But now, after losing her short battle with cancer, Mom wasn’t around to laugh with. As traffic slowed for a red light, tears stung my eyes.

“I miss you so much, Mom,” I whispered.

The enormity of the loss overwhelmed me. I gripped the steering wheel and cringed, knowing she wouldn’t dance at my upcoming wedding, snuggle with future grandchildren, or offer words of wisdom in times of trouble.

There at the red light, idling in traffic, I buried my head in my hands. I felt weak and very alone.

Moments later, as I sat there, I sensed someone watching me. Glancing at the car beside me, I saw the driver looking my way. Our eyes met, and I felt the care and concern this stranger had for me.

The driver smiled. I smiled back.

With that, the light turned green, traffic accelerated and I lost sight of the compassionate motorist. But as I maneuvered through the intersection, I realized it was more than the needle on the speedometer that was heading upward. My mood was lighter.

That simple exchange, brief as it was, dispelled the darkness. The kindness of a stranger gave me reason to smile. Suddenly, a sense of peace washed over me. I had strength for the day.

Looking back, I realize God was showing me how his love, even greater than that of a mother, would never leave me. His love would sustain me the rest of my life.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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