By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published November 28, 2019
We met in the hospital when she was a newborn, and I brought homemade cookies for her mother. The baby was tiny and sweet, and named Sarah Evangeline.
Although that was our first official meeting, I’d been aware of her existence for awhile. Her mother, Pam, was pregnant when we sang together in our church choir. And one day I learned there was a medical problem that could threaten the baby.
My late husband and I were volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity, who gave us a medal blessed by Mother Teresa to give my friend. The sisters promised their prayers, and we added ours to the fervent petitions rising skyward each day.
The pregnancy proceeded smoothly, and the baby was born healthy. A few months later, Pam asked me whether Jef and I would become the child’s godparents.
The photo shows Pam and her husband, Chris, along with Jef and myself, standing before the altar. The baby is dressed in a lovely white dress, and gazing intently into her mother’s eyes.
As godparents, we promised to be Christian role models for the child, and to help her parents raise her in the faith. The priest gave parents and godparents candles representing the risen Jesus, who is the light of the world.
He said, “Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. She is to walk always as a child of the light.”
I’m deeply grateful that God sent this child into my life. Although I have no biological children, she is my spiritual daughter, connected to me with an everlasting bond.
She became a joyful note gracing the lives of her godparents, who dearly loved her and her big brother, Stephen. He came over to watch movies with Uncle Jef, while Sarah joined Aunt Lorraine—or as she put it, “Awaine”—to bake cookies.
She was too little at first to reach the kitchen counter, and I was nervous about her standing on a chair, so I put a cutting board on the floor. She sat beside it and mixed the batter with a wooden spoon, while also pilfering the occasional chocolate chip.
When her brother and Uncle Jef sampled the cookies, she announced, “I made them—and Aunt Awaine helped.”
To celebrate her baptismal day each year, Sarah came over for teddy bear tea parties and other festive events. My little herd of stuffed animals came to life when Sarah was there. As she invented stories featuring the turtle, moose and chicken and my prized Pluto dog from childhood, the gang would gallop around the room, shouting and singing.
On Sundays we created a tradition after Mass of walking around the sanctuary together and looking at the stained-glass windows. She listened as I explained the stories, and when we studied the image of Jesus on the cross, she told me solemnly, “The bad guys did it.”
There were tough times along the years, especially when a cancer diagnosis shook me to the core. When I told Pam, she rushed over with Sarah, who was then three, and as Pam gave me a gigantic hug, the little girl wrapped her arms around my knees.
On Mother’s Day, she presented me with a box of chocolates and watched carefully as I opened it, before asking, “Can I have one?” And when we crossed streets, she took my hand as naturally as if I’d been her real mom.
Almost overnight, it seems, Sarah was tall enough to stand beside me and measure flour and sugar—and then one day, she was taller than me. She went to high school and then college, and turned 21, as the calendar pages flipped wildly forward.
Today, we went downstairs to admire her godfather’s artwork on the walls. When I confessed that some days I can’t believe he’s gone, she embraced me and whispered, “I love you.”
I pray for this sweet girl everyday, and rejoice that we are eternally connected through the love and grace of Jesus Christ. May the light of Christ continue to shine in her heart, and may the Lord always bless my spiritual daughter, who changed my life forever.
Artwork is by Jef Murray. You may email Lorraine at firstname.lastname@example.org.