The year my father died, I was spending the year as a volunteer in Chicago. I was having a blast teaching Pre-K and bonding with my new community members. My dad encouraged me to stay and assured me that he would be fine. About half way through the year, he took a turn for the worse. I went home in time to say goodbye before he passed away, but I was devastated. God had let me down in the worst way. I spent a month at home in a dark blur, before heading back to Chicago to finish the school year. It hadn’t occurred to me, though, what I would say to the kids. They knew I left because my dad was sick, but now what would I say?
When I got back to school, they all came running. I was completely bowled over by their love, their smiles, their innocence, and their goodness. They took turns showing me their lost teeth, the cool rock they’d found and giving me the sweetest hugs. After a while, one little boy asked, “Miss Anne, is your daddy all better?” The tears began filling my eyes, and I started, “Well …” He cut me off mid-stream, “ALSO DID YOU GET TO RIDE IN AN AIRPLANE?” I nodded. “THAT IS SO COOL!” then he ran off to join his friends. The pain was still there, the mystery of life and death being what it is, but goodness goes on. I truly felt God was there in that moment, reminding me that while I lost a lot, there are little gifts all around us.