Boone is not-quite eight and the younger of my brother's two sons. His spring break didn't coincide with Cade's, but his parents were happy for him to miss a couple days of school so he could experience Chattanooga with us.
The timing couldn't have been better because the rest of Boone's immediate family (including his brother CJ) were in Baltimore, where my brother had just undergone a second surgery. Boone had remained home in the excellent care of his four grandparents, but the trip to Chattanooga gave him a special something to do and a special reason to miss school. We had only one extra seat in our minivan; Boone seemed destined to fill it.
Now, Boone's brother CJ will be fifteen this summer and--given the mere eighteen months' age difference--has always been thicker than thieves with Cade. As such, CJ's been under my care on several occasions, but never Boone. I didn't really feel like I even knew him.
I tell you things and have no way of knowing if you believe me (you should), but I'm a deeply impatient person who's often in over her head. I'm a deeply impatient person, often in over her head, who's not really a kid person, which is to say: I love the ones who've been plunked in my life but am not inclined toward kids, in general.
So, before we left for Chattanooga, I had a little talk with Jesus. I asked for His protection and peace, of course, and then I asked Him to give me eyes to see and appreciate Boone.
I carried my little prayer with me. I knew I'd prayed it, and I trusted the Lord to answer it. Boone is typical, I think, for not-quite eight. He had busy moments. Also chatty, forgetful, needy, and whiny ones. I gave him the what-for a couple times: stern, you know, but in the kindest of my mom ways. And I kept my eyes open. I waited.
And then: POW! there he was. Just like that, I saw him.
I saw him, first, with a goat at Sugar's Ribs.
I saw Boone's spirit outside the aquarium, where Clementine (who'd soaked her sweater by plunging her arms a little too deeply into a tank) complained of being cold. Quick as a wink, and before the rest of us could even respond, that not-quite-eight-year-old was unzipping his bright, orange jacket and wrapping it around his much younger cousin.
And, the next day, I saw Boone's spirit at my parents' house, when I came upon him reading "Snow White" to Clementine.
Then, and I love this, I looked back through my photos and realized: even before I recognized Boone's spirit with the eyes of my heart, I captured it with my camera. It was always right there.
And I wonder, what would happen if I were to ask the Lord to give me eyes to see and appreciate people more often?