Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie) has a new best-selling book out which I thoroughly enjoyed, Finding Chika.
Chika was born 3 days before the 2010 earthquake decimated Haiti. When Chika’s mother dies, she is admitted to an orphanage which Mitch Albom and his wife Janine operate in Port-au-Prince. At age 5 Chika is diagnosed with a brain-cancer for which there is no cure. With no children of their own, Mitch and his wife bring Chika to live with them in Michigan. They try every means possible to find a cure for her. In the process Chika transforms their lives before she goes home to the Lord. One passage in Finding Chika, particularly got my attention…..
If the first words from a child’s mouth are “Mommy” or “Daddy,” the next word must be “Look!”. That’s how it felt to me, anyhow. As an uncle, I watched countless times as nieces and nephews held up scribblings – “Mommy, look!” or prepared to pool dive – “Daddy, look!” or grabbed a toy off a store shelf – “Uncle Mitch, look!” As dutiful family, we would nod and say, “Very nice” or “Wow.”
But I confess a sense of disconnect. It was never as fascinating to me as it was to them.
Then you came along, Chika. And maybe because I’m older now, or maybe because your eyes were so much wider than mine, or maybe because it’s simply different when the child is in your care, something stirred. I began to lean over, to see tiny miracles the way you saw them. Baby ducks running. Frogs hiding in the weeds. The wind lifting a leaf you were about to grab. One of the best things a child can do for an adult is to draw them down, closer to the ground, for clearer reception to the voices of the earth.
You did that for me Chika. We buried in leaves. We studied ants in the driveway. We rolled in snow – which astonished you the first time you saw it – and made your very first snowman. You put me on the other end of a magnifying glass or a toy telescope, and through those lenses, I could marvel at the world the way you did. You were an unfailing antidote to adult preoccupation.
All you had to say was, “Look!”
Look. It’s one of the shortest sentences in the English language. But we don’t really look, Chika. Not as adults. We look over. We glance. We move on.
You looked. Your eyes flickered with curiosity. You caught fireflies and asked if they had batteries. You unearthed a penny and asked if it was “treasure”. And without prompting, you knew discovery should be shared…….
Children wonder at the world. Parents wonder at their children’s wonder. In doing so, we are all together young.
What special memory do you have where a child in your care said, “Look!” and you saw wonder?
You may well enjoy reading Finding Chika as much as I did….