Smile, God Loves You: Along time’s walk

Tiffany Chartier
Special to Texoma Marketing and Media Group

The evening had just enough light left for me to change my heels to sneakers and walk the lane. I try to make four laps several times a week, giving me a boost to my metabolism and mood. Closing in on the first lap, however, I notice a shape in the distance.

As I near, I see my daughter’s tall frame sitting in our driveway. She adjusts her earbuds as her toes move up and down to a beat from one of her many playlists. She does not see me; her eyes are lowered to her phone.

I remember that she mentioned this morning on her way out the door that she was being picked up after school by some friends to go supply shopping for a project. It seems her senior year in high school has kept her moving out the door with more and more frequency. I imagine a day not too far off when the door will remain absent of her frame except for the occasional visits. And in this imaging, my pace quickens.

I must reach her before she is picked up and gone.

I hear something more than my sneakers against the gravel. Tires sound like Pop Rocks on the lane as a car approaches behind me. My heart sinks. I am too late.

I watch a grey sedan move beyond me, and for a moment, I cannot help but feel the sharp pang of missing – an opportunity missed. My pace slows as I watch the car draw closer to our home. My daughter looks up.

The sedan drives past our home and fades into the dim light of dusk. I hear my breath, faster and deeper, as my calves begin to burn. I have a singular thought to get to my daughter – not to let another car pass me and possibly reach her before me. A foolish thought, but my thought just the same.

And to think, she is entirely unaware. Yet, I cannot help but wonder when I became so aware of her temporariness at this address. An address that I will still occupy long after she has picked up and moved.

I walk to our driveway and think of the sidewalk chalk designs she and I made years ago on the very spot she now sits. Time has weathered the walk, but the memory is vivid. I picture her standing upon the drawings of suns and clouds made of buttery yellows and bright blues.

When she finally sees me, I can tell in her eyes that I surprised her. “Where did you come from?” she asks.

“Just out for a walk.” I did not tell her that I was returning from my first lap, nor did I tell her I was out of breath because I worked to get to her. Instead, I sit beside her and wait for her to talk.

She takes out her earbuds and tells me about her day, what she has going on this weekend, and about how she is looking forward to hanging out with her friends tonight.

A short time later, a silver sedan approaches, and I nod to myself that this is probably her ride. My daughter collects herself and stands, her attention already off me and waving to the driver in the car.

I stand and wave as well, to my daughter and her friend.

“Bye, Mom. I love you!” she shouts as she opens the passenger door and gets in. I watch the car go down the lane I just walked, now fading into the haze of nightfall.

“I love you,” I reply to an empty driveway, but for some reason, I do not feel alone. I am standing, after all, upon a path of well-worn memories – memories of days of sunshine and bright clouds, twilight connections and conversations, and evenings of sleep under the same roof.

I am startled by the sound of my timer – I should have just finished my walk. I would have been sweaty, out of breath, and headed straight to the shower. Instead, I walk slowly back in the house, take a deep breath, and thank God for it all – the messy kitchen, the laundry, and the workout clothes I am wearing that never saw a workout.

Mostly I thank God for letting one car pass, and the other arrive a few minutes late. In those minutes, I created moments to keep me company along time’s walk.

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier; Instagram:@tiffanysgly; and Twitter: @tiffanychartier. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.