Yesterday I woke up to the news that Two had been moved in the wee hours to the ICU. Not an auspicious start to the New Year. The kids were playing in the other room with the dogs, Mr. One had left for an early morning meeting, and, though I wasn't a tearful mess (which is actually a bit surprising, if you know me), I was feeling alone and deeply worried for my beautiful sister. I sat on my bed, a little paralyzed. It's such an odd and terrible thing to wait and hope and pray for an organ donation. Two's life is literally hanging by a thread, and the only thing that can save her is a tragedy in someone else's world. I don't like to think about it. Who would?
As I sat there staring into space and feeling sad, the sweet little Princess came padding down the hall with a can of cold Diet Coke clutched to her belly. She knows these are strictly off-limits. Since becoming pregnant (or, rather, discovering the fact), I've cut way back on my "drinking problem" and only indulge in that awfully delicious stuff very occasionally. I think she must have found this can hidden behind the kale in the vegetable drawer. Why she thought to dig it up at 7:30 on a Sunday morning was truly beyond me, and I wasn't in the mood to argue with my increasingly defiant first-born. But she waddled my way with the sweetest smile on her sleepy little face -- hardly the battle-ready look I've come to expect when she knows she's making trouble. "Here, Mommy. Maybe you should have a Diet Coke." Her words, so weird and unexpected, actually made me tear up a bit.
I'm sure Princess H had no idea why I was so down that morning. I don't even know what clued her in. But, in that sad hour, she thought to offer her downtrodden mom a treat with an embarrassingly proven history of bringing a twinkle to my eye. I was amazed at how much her odd act of charity touched me.
Every once in a while, epic joy or challenge gives us a glimpse of eternity. It can be transcendently beautiful. But that perspective can also cast a harsh light on trifling things. Sometimes that can be healthy. But one of the great lessons I (and, apparently Princess H) learned from my endlessly wise and inspirational sister, Two, is that appreciating and striving for deep things doesn't mean you can't enjoy harmless, shallow pleasures along the way. And if a Diet Coke makes you smile, then cheers to you, my friend.