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      A grassy path

     


Sam came into our lives when my kids and I were just getting settled in our little apartment. I came out of the kitchen and saw a little round face pressed against my sliding glass door. I went over and invited him in, he introduced himself and then made me go out on the porch to see his mom, Sara, who was planting flowers up on their porch we exchanged waves and names and I said he was welcome to play with my kids in the yard, of course my kids heard me yell play and they tore through the door, they made friends instantly. I smiled and told them the boundaries and went back inside.

Sam became a fixture in our lives, we spent endless time playing in the yard, you see my yard was way too big for just the three of us, so we always invited Sam and any other kid who wanted to have fun, my yard was always full of kids, and if Sara wasn't busy  we would sit and drink iced tea while they played, Sam's dad wasn't really into the outside thing but his specialty was water sports.

One summer day I was sitting at my desk working on a case when I heard crazy laughing, so I ramble outside to see, Sam's dad was spraying the path that connected our yards and all three were sliding down the little hill in the mud. I put my toughest smile on and said no wonder we cant' get grass to grow on that path, he said with a giant smile... well I'm watering it. We both stood there and enjoyed the moment, the kids had a blast of course. You see in the five years that we lived there, I only saw grass on that path when we first moved in and in last two years that we lived there. And that dirt was perfect for driving brand new hot wheels, breaking in new shoes, burying the terrible monsters, and my daughters barbies.

In the fall we had the deepest leaf pile, in the winter we had the strongest snow forts, and coolest snow people. our favorite season had come and was almost gone,we played in the yard till the lightning bugs went to bed, I am so blessed to only work in the day and everyday after 4 I can spend my time listening to my three favorite people laugh. One night we were in our usual spot in the yard waiting for falling stars, we even had a basket, when Sam asked me a question that made the hair on my neck stand up. In his 7 yr innocence he said if you knew someone was hurting me would you make them stop. I put my hand on his and I said you say 'when'. Sara calling him made me bump my head on the moon, he jumped up and took off up the path, of course he had to trip over something and roll back down, while he laughed the whole way.

School started and stole precious time, then the snow fell and Sam was gone, I didn't even see his parents. I saw Sara's car in the driveway one day so I took off to get answers. she answered the door she looked exhausted but glad to see me. She said I guess you haven't got your messages today, so I will tell you now, Sam got sick in December and has been in the hospital, he has a rare form of cancer. I hugged her and said anything they needed I am here, she looked at me and shook her head slowly she said softly, a cure. She gave me the address so we could send cards and we did, we sent cards and letters to let Sam know we loved him.

Seasons changed, and my yard was a little quieter, there were still kids but there was one voice I longed to hear. One shopping trip my son found a little box with a silk ribbon attached to put around your neck, the box was meant to hold trading cards, It was one of Sam and Josh's favorite games to play, so I bought two, my son filled his with his best cards, and he put a strong battle card in Sam's and asked if I would give it to Sara next time she stopped in at the house, it sat on my desk waiting. I came home early one afternoon and there was a strange car in the driveway, I grabbed the box and ran up the hill, a grey haired man answered the door and my heart jumped into my throat. I introduced myself, and he said ooh yes Sam talks of you often, today is his first day home. I smiled and held the box out, and asked him if he would please give it to Sam, then he asked me the strangest question, he said are you sick, I laughed and said not that anyone will admit to, he said hold on. The next thing I knew there stood my little buddy. I gave him his gift and his eyes danced, he said now I can take my favorite cards with me. I suddenly felt very tall, then he said I've been real sick Tina, I said yeah I know, remember we send you cards all the time, he smiled and said yeah the nurses hung them all over his room. Then he started talking about the doctors, the needles, and how he got sick every time they gave him medicine. I just listened then he said my mom and dad cried when he told them I might die soon. My head spun and I felt sick, thoughts ran through my head, there I stood a woman who was never at a loss for words, and not one word would come out of my mouth. I was doing so great not shedding tears today was a happy day, a tear escaped and ran down my cheek, he stepped onto the porch and wrapped his arms around my waist, I kissed his smooth head, and held him tight. He made a playful chocking noise, I bent down to his level, he traced my tears path with his finger and said 'when'. I looked into his soft brown eyes, I was hoping that words came out, but I know the voice I heard was not my strong, confident voice, I said I'm old buddy I've had a lot of fun if I could switch places with you I would, and I wish I could make your hurts go away, but I just can't do it. He smiled and said I know mom told me that too, but I had to say the word. He asked if I would bring the kids to play, his grandpa said as soon as the dr. said it was o.k. to have visitors, then he turned and disappeared as fast as he appeared. I straightened up and his grandpa shook my hand he held onto it, and said thanks for the gift, I smiled weakly. He looked into my eyes, then our tears fell like rain, we spoke without saying a word. My legs were frozen to the porch, I was afraid to leave that I would never see my little buddy again. he read my thoughts he squeezed my hand he said please come back soon. I said go love that little boy, and I walked home, I stopped on the path, I was walking on grass, my heart dropped even more.

Sam got sick the night before our play date. Later that year Sara and I was sitting on my porch, listening to the kids talk at the picnic table in the yard. She leaned over and said I would pay any amount to see our muddy path again, I looked at her and said yeah I remember we used to get mad sometimes when they came in covered in mud I swear I will never get mad again cause that grass just don't make me smile.

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