A couple of years ago, a friend invited me to join her playgroup at Bellview Park. It was a glorious sunny day, the kind you relish as you watch your 1-year-old test out her wobbly legs like a baby bird taking flight.
As the mothers talked freely, the children played. They splashed in the stream, giggled on the train, squealed at the animals in the petting zoo and rolled in the grass. It was one of those times when everything just seemed right.
Until I met Daniel. Actually, it was my sweet daughter Hadley who instigated the introduction. She had wobbled over to a corner of the park about 30 feet away from our perch and had innocently plopped down beside this little boy. He was tow-headed, bespectacled and I will never forget his bottomless smiles. I will also never forget his accompanying oxygen tank.
I struck up a conversation with his mother. Daniel was just a couple months older than Hadley but half her size and severely handicapped. But this child emanated a light like I have never seen as he guilelessly watched the children play around him.
In those brief moments that we spoke, I had such a strong connection with this woman as she longingly looked over at our circle of friends. A voice screamed inside me, "INVITE THEM OVER! She is in desperate need of companionship!"
But I did not.
I had my reasons, albeit superficial ones. After all, I did not know this woman, she did not know me. And besides, it was not even my playgroup; I was already crashing it. How would it appear if I invited a complete stranger over?
That woman has probably long forgotten that day.
I have not.
And I have vowed to keep remembering with each new encounter.
Amber is a former adventure-travel writer turned adventurous unraveling mother to two-year-old Hadley and baby Bode.