"Oh, she's adorable! Is she your first?" asked the friendly checker at Trader Joe's. The question snapped me to attention while Fifi squirmed and struggled in the grocery cart, determined not to leave a single chocolate bar on the display untouched.
As I attempted to be a gracious mother and speak sweetly to my little one while juggling yams and reusable bags and credit cards, I felt it. The lurch. The deer-in-headlights moment, feeling suspended in time. I had to make a split-second decision. Do I give an honest answer and say she's my third? Do I lie to save face and say she's my second?
On the fly I calculated what the relationship with the person was: Would I see them again? Did they know who I was? Would they later find out Daisy was gone and conclude I was delusional for what I was about to say? Because the question that always follows is how old the others are. Would it get weird? Should I tell them my middle child's body lies cold in a grave? I'd done that before, and it was awkward. Incredibly awkward.
So I did what felt like lying but was, actually, the true truth.
"No, she is my third."
"Surely not! You're so young and fit and fabulous! [Okay, that part was my imagination.] How old are the others?"
"They are eleven and fourteen," I said.
I did it. I said something that was truth, though it could be construed as a lie. And I did it to escape the potential look of horror on a stranger's face and the stuttering and the gauche stories of her cat's bout with cancer or grandma's death. And I didn't regret it.
While the checker chattered on about how much my baby's siblings must love her and help out so much at home, I got lost in the daydream of what it would have been like if Daisy had stayed on earth with us. She would have been eleven. It was not a lie; she is alive. She just lives somewhere that I can't see. I know it with all my heart. I am assured of this ethereal fact, this gorgeous mystery, because of what I have read in the Word of God, because I am acquainted with One who conquered death. I have faith she is alive, that I will join her, that my tears are being collected and treasured, eventually to be wiped away.
Faith is a peculiar thing. "Have faith," people say when they are hoping it rains. "Have faith," they say when you're up for a promotion. Or "have faith," they say when your daughter is on her third cancer diagnosis, fighting for existence and at death's door. We throw the word around, feather light, gaily at an afternoon tea. Or we grip hands covered in sweat and dust, looking deep into eyes whose light is waning. Sometimes faith makes me think of ruby slippers clicked together or fingers crossed. Or of scrunched-up eyes and the groaning sound you make when you're reaching for something that's just an inch too far away. That word holds the weight of hopes and dreams; it can be airy or religious, meaningless or deep. Faith and confusion seem to bleed together, running down until you aren't sure what it was supposed to look like in the first place.
Truth is, it's not all that confusing. Once we shed our American Christian culture, our personal experiences with erroneous faith healers, or any false ideologies we might have held or assimilated, faith is more clear, more lovely, more life-giving than we can imagine. The Bible defines faith as the "confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see" (Hebrews 11:1). This, this simple definition, holds an entire world in the balance for me. I can close my eyes and feel Daisy's warm delicate hand in mine. I feel her velvety hair right underneath my chin, the way I held her on my lap thousands of times. I hold my breath expectantly, certain of her existence, of her aliveness in a place I cannot see. I have my foot lifted, arms out – my stance ready to enter into this wonderful place and catch her at any moment.
Meet Britt and Kate Merrick this Monday on LIFE TODAY. Adapted from And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick. Copyright ©2017 by Kate Merrick. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com. All rights reserved.