A Mother’s Love

A Mother’s Love

Kimberly Wolkens

Sarah had been sick with the flu for what seemed like forever. It was really only for two whole days so far, but to a six-year-old, it felt like an eternity. She’d missed yesterday’s Halloween party at school because of her illness, which added insult to injury. Her mother tried to console her by saying there will be several more Halloween parties in her lifetime, but that did nothing to smooth out the ripples of disappointment for poor Sarah.

On the second day, she lay in her mother’s bed, cross at the world. She was mad that she couldn’t go to school. She was mad that she couldn’t go outside and play with her siblings when they got home from school. But what made her the maddest was being confined to bed, ordered to rest, told to stay under the covers. It was boring. Even though her mother did her best to bring her books or games or stuffed animals in between household chores, Sarah just didn’t feel like doing anything. Nothing pleased her.

For a while she occupied her mind by studying her mother’s beautiful quilt. The quilt had no two squares alike. She would look at all of the fabric patterns and debate over which pattern was her favorite. She settled on a square with a baby blue background that was dotted with tiny birds, wings out in flight. She wished she were like one of those birds, just floating through a cloudless sky. Eventually the quilt became boring to her, and she tossed it aside in frustration, only to be reminded minutes later by her mother to put the quilt back on so that she wouldn’t get the chills.

She was miserable.

One time when her mom came in to take her temperature, Sarah complained bitterly about being trapped in bed.

“Mama, I wish I could get out of bed. I wish I could fly, like these birds,” Sarah said, pointing to her favorite square.

Her Mama leaned over to study Sarah’s favorite square. “Ah, yes. That square came from a dress your grandma used to wear when she was young. It is very beautiful.” She put her hand on Sarah’s forehead. Her hand felt cool against Sarah’s hot forehead. “You’re not as feverish, but you need to stay in bed a while longer, so that you feel better sooner.”

 “Aw, man!” Sarah said. “But wouldn’t it be neat to fly?”

Her Mama paused for a second, and looked up to the ceiling in thought. “Hmm…” was all she said. 

That piqued Sarah’s interest. “What, Mama?” She watched as her mother re-tucked the quilt around her then stand up. 

“I think I have an idea. I’ll be right back!” Mama’s long brown hair swished behind her as she rushed out of the room with a mysterious smile on her face.

Sarah was so curious about what Mama had up her sleeve that she forgot she was sick. She fiddled with the ears of her stuffed bunny named Baby. She heard her Mama walk to the kitchen and open the junk drawer where they kept markers, loose change and other odds and ends. Then she heard the door to the basement open, then close a few minutes after that. Soon her Mama returned with a permanent marker in one hand and a bright pink ball in the other. 

“What are you doing, Mama?” Sarah asked.

“You were talking about flying and wishes, and it reminded me of something. One time I was stuck home sick, just like you. It was right around my birthday and I was miserable. Your grandmother made me feel better by drawing me onto a toy and took me outside, to experience the outside through the toy.”

Sarah wasn’t sure if she was being tricked, or if she should believe Mama. “Really? How?” she asked.

“I don’t know how it worked, sweetie. But she did this,” Mama said, and uncapped the marker. She drew a stick figure of a little girl with curly hair, a triangle dress, cute little eyes and a happy smile.

“Is that me?” Sarah asked. 

“Yes, I think it looks like you! This is how you look when you feel well enough to play outside.”

“Now what?”

“Well,” Mama said, standing up. “First let’s open your curtains so that you can see outside. Then if you watch, I’m going to stand right outside your window, and toss this ball into the air. The Sarah on this ball will be flying, and maybe….just maybe…you’ll feel like you are flying, too!”

A smile slowly crept across Sarah’s face. She thought it sounded too good to be true. But she almost always believed what Mama told her, so she decided she would believe her this time, too.

Mama walked out of the room toward the back door. Sarah heard her slip on a jacket, then open and close the door. Seconds later, her Mama stood in front of the window. She looked in at Sarah and waved. Sarah smiled and waved back. Mama held the beautiful pink ball so that drawn Sarah was beaming back at real Sarah.

Mama bent her knees to get lower to the ground, then she sprung up and tossed the ball so very high into the air. Sarah closed her eyes and couldn’t believe what happened.

Now Sarah was flying, too! She felt her stomach flip-flop as she spun upward. She saw her blonde curls bounce carelessly around her shoulders. She looked down at the elegant pink dress floating lazily around her legs. She laughed as she watched the window of her parents’ bedroom get smaller and smaller. Sarah flung her arms out wide, pretending to be like the little birds on the quilt. All too soon, she reached the top of the ascent and lazily rolled down toward the ground. She watched as her Mama’s figure grew larger and larger, her outstretched hands ready to catch her.

Mama caught her as gently as she could, and with a squeal of delight from Sarah, bent toward the ground again before springing up to send Sarah into flight. Once again Sarah watched the house and the trees get smaller and smaller. She held her arms out and felt the air around her caress her skin. It was the most beautiful moment, being suspended in air, seeing the fiery autumn trees paint the ground in reds, golds and browns. She felt light and happy and excited. She saw a great big world out there, and she wished she could look at the whole thing from her place in the air.

But eventually, it was her turn to come back home. She felt herself falling toward the ground, her belly tickling as she came down…down…down. Again her Mama caught her. Mama held her up so that the real Sarah would see her.

The real Sarah opened her eyes, and was once again snuggled underneath a quilt in her parents’ bed. Sarah smiled the biggest smile she’d ever had. Her Mama waved once more; Sarah returned the wave.

Sarah looked down at her favorite quilt square and lovingly caressed it. Her mother came back inside, hung up her jacket and came to the bedroom doorway. 

“So…how was it?” Mama asked with a grin.

“I felt like I was really flying!” Sarah said happily. “But…how did you…how did I…?” Sarah’s head spun in circles as she tried to figure out how something so magical could feel so real.

Mama simply smiled and said, “I don’t know how it works, exactly. But Grandma always said that a Mother’s love can make anything happen.” Mama came in and gave the pink ball to Sarah. Sarah snuggled even further under the quilt, placing the ball so that she could see the other Sarah, Flying Sarah, as she drifted off into a soft slumber where she dreamed about flying over the neighborhood and to beautiful places unseen.

Kimberly Wolkens