Serving Up Spidey
Cooper crawled into bed that cold Friday morning and snuggled up beside me.
"It's a big day," my husband sleepily said to him. "It's Momma's last day at the magazine."
Coop rolled over top of me to get to Dad.
"Daddy," his little 5-year-old voice whispered, "can we go to the store and get some flowers for Momma?"
"Of course," he replied.
Coop disappeared into his room, returned with a handful of change from his piggy bank, slid it into Daddy's hand, and then disappeared again.
I have been a journalist since I was the sports editor of my high school paper at age 14 - and most recently for Capital Style magazine, where I spent the past six years. Journalism has charted the course of my life, moving me to places like Grand Junction, Colo., and Springfield, Ill. It has whisked me on journeys I otherwise never would have taken, from standing beside a doctor as he surgically removed a woman's breast to chatting with Whoopi Goldberg at New York Fashion Week. It has challenged me, shaped me, defined me. And I have loved it back with every part of my being.
Now, I'm leaving to tell stories in a different way - this time for Flying Horse Farms, a camp in Mount Gilead that provides transformative experiences for children with serious illnesses. This place - it's magic. It's where this week is the best week - the week these kids with heart conditions, kidney ailments, cancer and the like get to trade doctor visits and odd-man-out realities for campfire song singing, whipped-cream pie slinging and high-ropes course conquering. Soul work, theirs is. And I'm incredibly honored to join them in it.
I had tried explaining it months ago to Coop as best I could, wondering whether he understood.
Suddenly, Coop reappeared beside me, this time holding his whole Spider-Man piggy bank.
He set it on the bed, then pushed it toward me.
"Go ahead, Momma," he said. "It's for the kids who are sick."
Off he went, my heart the size of a universe, tears welling.
When I walked downstairs, I found an incredibly touching note on the table from Izzy, my 16-year-old stepdaughter.
By the time my husband walked into the kitchen, tiny rivers of happy were making their way down my cheeks.
"Wow," he said. "Your kids are winning today."
We all have those moments, right? Those times that we are sure we are epically failing because our kids refuse to eat broccoli, or they don't remember to say "thank you" every time without being reminded, or they are on the iPad too much because even though we said 15 minutes we actually meant 30 since that gives us a chance to finish cooking dinner and watch the final 20 minutes of yesterday's Dancing With the Stars.
And then, they serve up Spidey and a Post-it, and our hearts burst into a billion pieces. A house full of love: it's the only thing I really want. Thank you, my little people, for giving a girl embarking on a whole new journey just that.
Now, go eat your carrot sticks without deep sighing at me, pick up your LEGOS and don't forget to change the toilet paper roll when it runs out, thank you very much.
-Kristy Eckert is a Powell mom and the Chief Communication Officer at Flying Horse Farms, a camp in Mount Gilead that provides magical experiences for children with serious illnesses. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.