Not Enough Hands!

Not Enough Hands!

From Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul

Not Enough Hands!

The most rewarding thing about being a grandparent is watching your children become loving parents. It is our assurance that we did something right, after all.

Jean Wasserman McCarty

Sarah was my first grandchild—the firstborn of my firstborn— and her parents, Rogie and Steve, did all the things necessary to provide a safe, nurturing environment for their daughter. I was so proud of their efforts and absolutely devoted to being the best grandparent possible! But despite every precaution that grown-ups can take, sometimes horrible things still happen. At the age of two years and two months, our precious Sarah was killed in a house fire caused by faulty wiring.

Our family has relived that tragic night over and over again, trying desperately to think of a way it could have been prevented. Each of us has, secretly, felt responsible. Not that anyone was, of course, but there’s just something about being an adult, caring for a child, that makes you feel that you should have been able to prevent anything bad from happening. Children have ear infections and skinned knees—they aren’t supposed to die!

God has blessed us with many beautiful grandchildren since then, and they are all miracles to us. But, of course, there is no Sarah. And until recently, I have had recurring nightmares in which I am desperately trying to protect or hide our other grandchildren from some unnamed danger. Finally, after still another terrifying dream, I turned my fears over to God and asked him to show me what I needed to do.

In answer to my prayers, he sent me one more dream:

I dreamed that my husband Ron and I had several of our grandchildren with us, and we were walking along a beach. There were other people passing by, some with their families, some in couples, some alone. A few spoke to us—most didn’t—but that wasn’t important. I sensed that everyone who walked there was, like me, silently reflecting on the mighty ocean and its overwhelming power.

Ron and I were holding hands, but of course the children were running all around, as inquisitive children do in a place full of things to discover. We were trying to keep an eye on all of them, and I remember thinking, I don’t have enough hands! I wanted so much to hold the hand of each one and explain things about the beach as we went along, but they were eager to make their own discoveries.

Ryan was running ahead of all of us, but he was looking back to check in and call out comments about what he was finding on his way down the beach. Tiffani was following him, but staying much closer to us, sometimes running back to hold my hand a while for reassurance. Becky, Justin and Jessica were holding hands and talking together while they pulled each other this way and that. Big Benjamin was looking under logs and rocks for any interesting creatures to watch or play with, and Little Benjamin was toddling along, holding T. J.’s hand. T. J., the oldest of the grandchildren, was the guide, the caretaker. I knew she would see that the baby remained safe.

A crowd of people suddenly swarmed by—I hadn’t seen them coming down the beach—and they were all traveling in the opposite direction from us. We momentarily lost track of the children, and when the crowd drifted on down the beach, Ron and I quickly inventoried each of our own. They were still playing, talking, traveling loosely in our family group, but at least in sight and still traveling our way—except for Little Benjamin, who came toddling up to us—alone! My heart froze! Ron and I looked at each other, and I could see his concern, too. T. J. would never let go of Benjamin’s hand along a strange beach! Yet she was nowhere to be seen.

We called the other children together and started to search. I was frantic! I couldn’t breathe! Pleading silently with God, I said, Please don’t take another child from us! Familiar feelings of pain and guilt overwhelmed me. Please let us find her! We searched and called, but she didn’t answer. Could she have been picked up and carried along by someone in the swarming crowd that had temporarily engulfed us? I climbed the hills overlooking the ocean to search in the tall grasses there. Looking out over the vast expanse of water, with its whitecaps bobbing, I was struck again at its power. She could be right there, bobbing with the whitecaps, and I might not even see her! I felt so frustrated! I don’t have enough hands! I thought.

Suddenly, the urgency to pray came over me, and God’s peaceful voice, out of the depths of the ocean—out of the air itself—spoke to me: No human has enough hands—you’re not supposed to. Don’t expect yourself to be responsible for everyone and everything. That’s where I come in. Let me have her—let me have all of them. Their spirits belong with me, just as Sarah’s does—and yours. I love them even more than you do, and I know what each of them is capable of achieving. Give them to me each day—I have enough hands for everyone.

I knelt and prayed in the tall grass, Thy will be done. I gave T. J. to God, just as I had turned Sarah over to him so many years ago. And for the first time, I forgave myself for not having enough hands—then and now. As I lifted my head, I heard shouts from down on the beach. Ron and all the children were hurrying toward a smiling T. J., who was running to catch up with the rest of her family! She had been temporarily swept along by the clamoring crowd and she, too, had not had enough hands to keep her hold on little Benjamin!

As I ran back down the hill to hold her in my arms, I thanked God for letting us keep her for a while longer. And I thought to myself, I must tell her it’s okay that she wasn’t able to keep track of Benjamin. She needs to know that God is the one who has enough hands! I need to remember that, too.

Cathie Collier Hulen

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