what are miracles, she asked

‘what are miracles?

 he stopped short, spilling a few drops of milk on the counter.

‘that’s an odd question,’ he said, placing a blue bowl of cheerios – store band, mind you, with a little honey on top – in front of her.

‘what made you think of it?

she was already halfway through her first bite, displaying a hereditary lack of patience-while-hungry, and he let her chew to a finish before answering.  he used this time to wipe the countertop clean with a hand-towel and sit down next to her.

he, too, had a blue bowl of store brand cheerios.

and a healthier dousing of honey, but she wouldn’t notice, he thought.

‘i heard m

 ‘swallow, hun.’

she did, begrudgingly.

‘i heard my teacher say, ‘it was a miracle’ when talking to another teacher.  she was talking to mrs burns.’

‘now, honey, you know it’s rude to listen to adults when they’re not talking to you.’

she finished another bite,

such large bites of cereal she took, no doubt a lesson learned from her father,

and refused to be sidetracked.

‘what are miracles?’  she pressed, again.  ‘i think i know what the word means,’ she jumped in, beating him to the punch of asking, ‘but i don’t know what a miracle . . .‘

she paused, this time chewing over her word choice, ‘ . . . looks like.’

she held her spoon tightly in one hand, her other closed in a tiny fist of distracted curiosity and determination.

she turned to her father, a few blond curls spilling over her ears, and allowed him to finish his bite of store brand cheerios, but held eye contact, blue eyed-contact.

he pushed his bowl forward, an unspoken lowering of house lights, and the ushers pulled the doors, not to be reopened until intermission.  his audience leaned forward.

‘miracles,’ he said, looking at his hands, held open, palms to the ceiling, resting on the breakfast nook table,

‘miracles are the things that happen

when all we can do is hope.

when there is nothing left but hope,

no action, nothing we can do ourselves.

miracles are when the night

seems endless

and we have no light,

but a light shines, anyway.’

he looked over his left shoulder,
back to her blues, smiled,
and toned down his rhetoric.

‘miracles are when the things that scare us in the dark

stop being scary.

when those things leave us joyful,

you’ve seen a miracle.’

she blinked.

he fought off the urge to recite a list, metaphorical and literal, of examples, and chose one.

‘every day, you go to school.  i can’t control what happens when you are gone, no matter how badly i want to.  all i can do is hope you are safe and come home to your mother and me.’

‘daddy, you always pick me up.  i come home with you.’

‘you’re ruining the moment!’

she giggled and crammed a spoonful of now slightly soggy store brand cheerios in her mouth, never taking her eyes from her father’s, making this one of the messier bites of the morning.

‘all i can do is hope you are safe and happy when you are gone.  and every day you come home safe and happy, that is a miracle.  to me, at least,’ he said, reaching for the hand-towel.

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