The kitchen was abuzz with 4th of July dinner party chatter, everyone gathering round the island to fill plates high. Mine full, I glanced over at the bay seating. Somewhat unusually, all the little kids had it pegged first.
My eyes followed on through the large windows to the deck beyond. There, all alone at a long wooden table, sat three-year old Molly, her back to the house.
That’s funny, I thought.
Stepping outside, I greeted her. “Hi sweetie!”
She patted a seat beside her tiny form. “My mommy’s coming to sit next to me!” she announced, smile breaking across her face like sun on a summer daisy.
“That’s great!” I answered, slipping my plate in catty corner from her, making sure to reserve that space between us.
One by one, others came to join us, and to each one Molly flashed her ingenuous smile, informing again and again of her mom’s promise to sit next to her.
“Let’s tell stories!” her slightly older boy cousin piped up, sending lively conversations of fun and silly “remember when’s” round our group, like a game of duck, duck, goose.
Quite a bit of time elapsed, and still that spot remained, like a missing tooth, next to Molly.
Here and there, I wondered if her mom knew she was so fervently expected. After all, she was the party hostess, probably caught up in some serving inside. Maybe I should go find her… But the stories, like sparklers, kept swinging my attention back to the laughter all round and I sat on.
I glanced at Molly’s face, faith and hope in her promise still beaming there like the banner of stars and stripes over the day… until, unknowing of her little cousin’s space-holding, one of the college girls slipped her plate into that last seat beside Molly.
That one action seemed to be her last straw of hope, and without a word to explain the seat was reserved, Molly…simply…avalanched…into…tears.
“It’s okay, honey,” we all encouraged. “Don’t worry! Mags can move over here next to me… your mom will still have space!”
But, overwhelmed with gulping, she wasn’t hearing.
Suddenly, her dad appeared out of nowhere, right behind her. Molly stood up on her bench seat and flung herself into his arms on a heartbroken moan, “OOOOHHHH!”
Questions spun through my thoughts as I put myself in Molly’s place. Was she feeling broken at the appearance that maybe her mom wasn’t coming after all? Or was it that she had tried her best to save that space and now it just seemed like she was too little to accomplish that? Her faith had been so complete, so unwavering as she continually spoke that truth out to each and every one of us at that table. Love had promised… and of that she’d had no doubt. But maybe… it had just taken a bit too long.
I could feel tears behind my own eyes, because I’d had that hope deferred makes the heart sick feeling myself lately. Hanging on to the Father’s promises, declaring them out in faith, “saving that space” expectantly. But sometimes… it just seemed like it was taking sooooo long. Like my faith was too little, I wasn’t strong enough. And… where was He?
I watched Molly’s dad, holding her close. Not trying to “talk” her into anything. Just letting her rest secure against his chest.
“That’s what I mean by ‘My power is made perfect in your weakness…’ When it seems like it will just never be, always remember…I’m ever working behind the scenes,” came a whisper to my spirit. “Keep your eyes on the promise, for the breakthrough is near! My Word is true and unfailing!”
Just then, the back door creaked, Molly’s mom holding it open with one elbow and one foot, plate piled high in hands, eyes filled with question. “What’s happened?” she asked with puzzlement and concern.
Voices vied across the table, explaining. Someone must have taken her plate to set down as she quickly enfolded Molly in her arms. “Oh honey,” she said, wiping her tears, “thank you for doing such a wonderful job saving my place!”
Soon, table now complete, mom and daughter hip to hip in their places, the stories and laughter resumed. Watching Molly lean her head contentedly into her mom’s side, I smiled. Faith, like a sunny, lemon yellow bird, fluttered its wings against my heart.
© Pam Depoyan