The kids know the drill: If they will suffer patiently through a long drive and waiting in the car while I make some sales calls, they get to stay in a hotel, go out to dinner, go swimming and usually catch a movie while we're there. They love it! And I love being with them. We checked into our hotel about 6pm. We had eaten a late lunch, so we went straight to the swimming pool. What a fun group to go swimming with. I carted Cali, Lexi and Xander (and occasionally Jess) around the pool. I threw Xander and Jesi into the water. I caught the three younger ones as they would jump in from the side. I had to be very careful with Lexi, who still can't quite get the grasp of jumping out instead of up! A couple of times I had to grab her and pull her towards me to prevent her from falling straight down onto the edge of the pool. Fun times!
We went back to our room and rushed like crazy to get bathed and ready and then headed off to the Historic Main Street Theater to watch The Croods. The kids loved it, and I was quite entertained. I love to go to movies with the kids, but I'm a bit of scrooge when it comes to treats in theaters. I just can't get myself to pay four bucks for a soda or three for a candy bar. So I made them starve. They did have the movie as a diversion, though!
After the show we went to Winger's for dinner. The kids love to eat there because the free appetizer is popcorn, so at least they got their popcorn fix! We ate lots of wings (except Jesi, our little miss picky. She had a kids meal waffle.) After dinner we crashed in the hotel. Springhill Suites is my favorite place to stay when I travel. We had a room with two double beds plus a pull-out sofa. Christi often talks about how great it is to nap with Lexi, so I figured she would be a good choice to have in my bed. Boy was I wrong! That little twit twisted and squirmed and even snored all night long! I'd be surprised if I got more than four hours of sleep. She got a big smile on her face when I teased her about it in the morning.
It was a fun trip. I'm grateful to have opportunities like these to bond with the kids. As we watched the movie, I had an overwhelming emotional experience. I was sitting next to Lex. Part of the time she would just sit there. Sometimes she would laugh when the rest of the audience laughed. At times I would hold her hand. Occasionally I would try to explain to her what was going on. During one of the times when I was explaining the action to her, the following occurred: The Crood family had been walking through a forest with a young man to guide them. He decided to show them something they had never seen. They all climbed to the treetops and popped their heads out into the open sky. As they did so, they were able to see the night sky full of stars for the first time. I said to Lexi, "they are looking at the beautiful stars!" As I said this, I was suddenly overcome with emotion as I realized that this is something Lexi herself will never experience, at least in this life. Tears streamed down my face as I thought of the many moving, even spiritual experiences I have had while looking at a sky filled with stars. Oh my sweet Lex, what you are missing. And that is just one, solitary scene that you cannot see. You will never be able to experience the beauty of the world through your eyes. My heart aches for you.
And yet...as I am writing this, a little whisper has come into my heart. It has let me know that Lexi's lack of eyesight will enable her to experience things I will never experience. Her appreciation of the sounds she hears is surely far superior to mine. Her ability to trust in those around her is surely far advanced compared to someone who learns to trust so much in their own vision. And I would guess that her ability to feel and listen to the Spirit is far greater than the ability of most of us who are so distracted, intentionally or unintentionally, by the visual stimuli that constantly bombard us. Last, but certainly not least, I believe that she will receive some special blessings in heaven which will more than compensate for any opportunities lost in this life.
I love my Lexi. She is a tremendous example of facing catastrophic challenges with the utmost grace. What a privilege it is to call her my daughter.