©Jeanne E Webster
“Mommy, look at what I got for you!” the energetic child exclaimed as she held out a mangled dandelion.
Limply folding laundry, the weary mother replied, “Oh, that’s nice, Nancy; what a pretty flower! Now go back outside and play with your brother.”
“Don’t forget to put it in water, Mommy!” Nancy shouted as she scampered back outside. Only five years old, she already babysat Johnny, her two-year-old brother.
“Ok, Nan,” Mommy half-heartedly promised, her mind drifting back to the household chores awaiting her. The prized dandelion silently dropped to the floor and shriveled into a skinny speck. Pensively she heard laughter coming from the back yard, and a hint of a smile appeared on her face. “At least the kids are happy and well,” she mused. With a hundred things to do, she poured another cup of coffee and continued her mundane activity.
Cries from Johnny a while later broke into Mrs. Armstrong’s labors. Pushing her head out of the upstairs bedroom window, she called out, “Nan, what’s wrong with Johnny?”
No answer. His cries became more desperate… something is wrong, terribly wrong.
Throwing the freshly washed linens on the bed, she hurried to the stairs, hollering again, “Nancy! What’s the matter with Johnny?!”
Again….no answer. A full panic raging now, Mrs. Armstrong took the stairs two at a time, quickly reaching the doorway to the backyard. Her eyes searched frantically for her children.
Johnny’s voice was at its highest pitch as she bent down and removed him from his swing seat. Comforting him with hugs, she quickly pivoted around in a frenzied search for her daughter. Nancy’s gone! The gate to the fenced yard was closed and there was no sign of her on the premises.
Scanning the back yard as she rushed into the house, she dialed 911 to report her missing daughter. As she waited for the arrival of the police, her last conversation with Nancy played over and over in her head. Her heart broke as she realized she hadn’t really listened to her daughter… the treasured dandelion lay shriveled up on the kitchen floor. She had never put it into water.
Bracing herself for the ordeal facing her, she made a vow to tell Nancy when the police found her that she was sorry for breaking her promise. “Next time I’ll listen, Nan. Promise.”
[Written months ago–before little Breeann]