The white round table drew together the small family of three: Mary, Sam and their daughter Lila. At seven and an only child, Lila longed for companionship. But Lila lived in a quiet house.
Mary turned from the stove with the steaming pot of stew and placed it on the frayed potholder in the middle of the table. She looked over at Sam. His jaw tense and his eyes trained on the cell phone, he didn’t look up. Mary sighed and sat down.
Sam bowed his head with Mary and Lila mirroring the same.
“Bless this meal and this family. Amen.”
Two quiet amens followed. Nothing was heard but the sound of silverware and the rustle of napkins.
“How was your day today Lila?”
Lila looked up and Mary could see tears welled in her daughter’s eyes.
“Lila – what’s wrong honey?”
Sam looked over at his daughter.
“Are you crying?”
“Sam – really? What does it look like? Lila honey, what happened?”
“Susie is mad at me.”
“Who is Susie?”
Mary snapped at Sam, “That’s Lila’s best friend, which you would know if you spent any time with us.”
Turning her attention to her daughter, Mary put her hand on the small pudgy hand and smiled.
“Honey, what happened?”
Lila took a deep sigh and then in a tumble of words explained how they were playing with Lila’s new ball, had gotten into an argument over what game to play and Susie said she didn’t like Lila anymore and went home. Lila was sniffing mightily by the end of the story.
Sam felt sorry for his little daughter but was at a loss what to say. He got up from his chair and gently hugged Lila.
“It’s not fair. She has a brother and sister so she has someone to play with – I have nobody.”
A spoon clattered to the table. Mary shoved her chair back and fled the kitchen.
“What’s wrong with mommy? I just wish I had a brother and a sister too.”
“Lila …” Sam cleared his throat and tried to find a spot to begin.
It was graduation day and Lila had never looked happier. She was talking a mile a minute as Sam pulled the car into the high school lot. Mary dabbed at her eyes with a tissue as they got out of the car. Walking into the school, they were encased in a sea of families with everyone talking and snapping pictures.
As they settled into their seats, Sam reached over and took Mary’s hand. Both of their eyes followed a path to their daughter.
Sam squinted and said, “Isn’t that Susie?”
“Off course. You know the girls are inseparable.”
“I still remember their first fight.”
Mary smiled. “I remember how you came and held me after talking to Lila.”
Sam squeezed Mary’s hand and kissed her softly on the cheek.
“You guys aren’t going to do that the whole time are you?”
“Yeah it’s like gross.”
Sam and Mary turned to the two girls with shiny black hair and ready smiles sitting next to them. Two pairs of dark almond eyes looked back.
“You’re going to embarrass our sister.”
“Well we can’t have that.” Sam chuckled but continued to hold Mary’s hand.
Much later at a popular restaurant, a family of five held hands and bowed their heads together. A waitress in a mustard-colored uniform with tired eyes paused as the man began to speak.
“Dear God – thank You for our family and for all You have given us. Please bless this food and the one who waits this table. We humbly ask Your blessing on our daughters. We love You very much. In Jesus’ name. Amen”
From the little table, the waitress and the surrounding tables - a virtual chorus of amens resounded.
Reconcile to God, to each other, to circumstances.