“Mama, I’m done.”
I squatted down to pick up Adelaide from the living room floor, where she was feverishly chewing on a toy. One of those stacker rings. The quintessential toy for babies. Even people who’ve never spent an entire afternoon with a child are aware of the stacker’s existence. A small blanket, ring stacker, and baby bottle. Universal symbols for infants. Being used by a 4-year-old.
I’d asked Adelaide if she wanted a snack. I already knew her answer. It was 10:30. She eats a snack and drinks a bottle at 10:30 on Home Days. On School Days, she eats her snack at an unknown time to me. I know it changes based on which therapy she has for the day. Tuesday: speech and occupational therapy together; Wednesday: two physical therapy sessions back-to-back; Thursday: speech and occupational therapy separately. But today is Friday. Good Friday.
Adelaide’s response made me take pause. I was starting to stand. One knee on the ground. One leg up. About to push up, with Adelaide in my arms. I’ve never kept track of how many times I lift her in a day. I froze. It was a sentence. Thrilling. Just at the wrong time. Adelaide looked at me and said something with meaning. Even before she ate her first Cheerio, she said she was done. She couldn’t be done eating before she started. But she knew the words somehow matched the occasion.
When she was younger, she used to say “All done” and even signed it on occasion. Then she stopped. It’s Adelaide’s way to do something new and stop doing it at anytime. With no warning. She then amazes us by starting again. Weeks, months, or even years later. Or she doesn’t do it again. We are still waiting for certain words, signs, milestones, inchstones, and skills to jump out from behind a couch and shout, “Surprise!” at us.
“Adelaide, those are good words! Let’s eat a snack and then you can tell me when you’re done!” She stared. Averted her eyes. Groped me. Almost as if it hadn’t even happened.
It’s Good Friday. I’m folding laundry, washing dishes, putting away diapers, making milk cups, and thinking about the thorns and the vinegar and the temple veil being torn in two. I heard her say, “I’m done.” I’m just as positive about it as I am of Jesus saying, “It is finished.” And I hum old hymns under my breath while I cut up an apple into Adelaide-sized pieces. And I think about the spear that pierced Him.
The disciples were all over the place. Jesus had prepared them for this reality, but everything about it felt wrong. Out of place. I’m 33 this year. Graham keeps asking if I’m going to die this year, like Jesus did. I assure him that Jesus was the only one who could’ve done it. That my death can’t save anyone.
“What if Adelaide walked in front of a car? I mean if she ever learns to walk. If you pushed her so you would die instead, den you can die to save someone.”
“Yes, but then Adelaide would just die another way on a different day. I could only save her once. Jesus died so anyone could live forever, remember? And He couldn’t just die, He had to win over death and be alive again, right?”
“Yes! Dat’s da hope of Easter!”
The manger. The cross. The empty tomb. The quintessential symbols of my faith. And that stone rolled away is what I cling to for Adelaide. For Graham, Bess, Laurence, and Flannery. Milestones and inchstones are in the shadow of that tomb. Jesus didn’t die and live just so my kids could stack rings and say their ABCs and go to college. He did it so they could be with Him forever. After all the stuff here is over. And my two youngest children didn’t even get a chance to need baby blankets, but He covered them. And Adelaide talked to me today, because God created language in the first place.
And on that Good Friday, Jesus said, “It is finished.” And it seemed out of time. How could the Savior of the entire world be hanging on a tree and make such a declaration? How could He love people who hated Him with every ounce of their sin? Or their apathy. Me.
And Bess begs me for a ‘yellow sugar duck’ and I’m plucked from my contemplative state as Graham plays in the sink and Adelaide counts and Bess tries to feed ham to her three baby dolls she brought to the table. God delights in their curiosity and learning, because He created those things, too. And we go about our day. Because it’s a Friday. And we have snack at 10:30 on Fridays. Even on Good Friday. When we remember that horrifically gorgeous sacrifice. And find ourselves a couple millennium later waiting for Jesus to shout, “Surprise!” as He returns for us.