She knew how to hide from me, but she was too young to realize I could hear her even though I couldn’t see her. The crinkling of the cellophane led me to her secret spot. She was crouching behind the TV cabinet, and I could tell by her profile that she had something in her mouth. A green and red wrapper for a piece of strawberry candy from her Halloween stash was crumpled up in her tiny fist. She was shocked to see me, and her reaction was to spit it out, hoping to undo what was already done. But, it was too late. She was aware of the rules regarding how much candy she could have each day. It was her desire for a sweet treat that was driving her decisions, not any moral obligation to me.
My heart dropped as the translucent pink candy hit the hardwood floor. In that moment I knew this was a turning point in our relationship.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled as she shifted her gaze away from mine.
I moved in closer, scooped her up and hugged her tight. This was the first time she had tried to hide from me, but it wouldn’t be the last. And, it wouldn’t be the last time I would try to find her.
Now, almost ten years later, our games of hide-and-seek are more complicated. They involve monitoring the websites she visits and following her Tumblr posts. They also involve deeper matters of the heart and soul—her longings, fears and frustrations.
My eyes and ears no longer adequate, I must employ my heart in order to find hers. There’s a different kind of energy involved. It’s the work of waiting and being patient and present. I don’t dare bang on her door, demanding her to connect with me. But, sometimes in those moments, instead of having to search for her, she’ll crack open the door and reach for me.
Charlotte Donlon lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband and their two children. She blogs at charlottedonlon.com and explore ideas related to faith and waiting at gainingwait.com. You can reach her @charlottedonlon.