Lucy stood in the Salvation Army shop on Christmas Eve, praying that she would find something for little Brody. He loved Christmas and didn’t understand poverty. She had used almost all her spare cash to buy a small chicken and a 3-day old cake. She couldn’t bear the thought of there being nothing under the tree for him. She just couldn’t.
Lucy moved slowly around the shop picking up toys, checking the price and putting them back. The shop manager was watching her, his kind hazel eyes recognized her misery and he wanted to help. He wandered over, ‘looking for something specific?’ he smiled.
Lucy smiled back, ‘just a little something for my son’.
‘Is he a good boy?’
‘The best,’ Lucy said tears appearing in her eyes.
‘It’s our 3rd Christmas without his dad and we try hard to celebrate and not feel sad.’
‘Oh so sorry!’
‘Don’t be, he suffered with cancer and now is pain-free.’ Lucy took a deep breath and picked up a clean but battered looking teddy bear with beautiful amber eyes. She wondered if Brody would like it. It was just too pricey and Lucy put it back.
The shop manager shuffled up to her carrying a very old and dusty box. Lucy wondered if he had found something for Brody, feeling embarrassed that she would most likely have to explain that she only had a few pennies to her name.
Opening it Lucy found a pair of ancient goggles. The old leather strap was worn and could adjust to 3 different head sizes. Scarred bronze rims framed yellowed glass, scratches added to its character and intrigue. They were unusual and Lucy knew Brody would love them. Sending up a quick prayer, she asked the cost while formulating the least humiliating way to tell him she couldn’t afford them.
’77 cents please’ he smiled a toothy grin and her heart soared.
‘That’s exactly how much I have!’ she exclaimed.
‘It’s yours then.’
‘Thank you,’ she couldn’t resist giving him a quick hug before she left almost dancing out of the shop.
Lucy couldn’t wait for Christmas day. She carefully wrapped the gift in folded newspaper and hid it under her bed. That night she thanked God for her gifts, before climbing into her cold and lonely bed. Putting her hand out she felt the dent in the bed and tears welled in her eyes.
‘Not on Christmas Eve’ she berated herself, snuggling down into the warm but scratchy blanket and was soon asleep.
‘Mom! Mommeeee…’ it was still dark but Lucy knew there was no way he would go back to sleep.
‘There’s something under the tree! Is it for me?’ he bounced up and down on her bed making her head knock on the headboard.
‘Stop!’ she laughed, nodding.
‘Come. Come mommy please.’
Hopping out she put on her slippers and gown, insisting he did the same. He ran out of her bedroom and she waited for him in the tiny lounge, feeling excited. Still pulling his gown on, he attacked the present ripping it with the enthusiasm only children on Christmas Eve can feel.
He opened the box and stopped. His gaze settled on the goggles with awe.
‘Woooooooow. These are great’ he said nodding his head. Lucy smiled just happy that her darling little man had a gift on Christmas. Brody jumped up holding the goggles in his hand and threw his little arms around her. Sending up yet another silent prayer of thanks, she hugged him back breathing in the clean, fresh smell of her little boy. It was heaven.
Brody sat next to her and slowly put the goggles on. Lucy adjusted them to the smallest setting and they fit snugly around his head.
Brody stared for a while cuddled in her arms, he moved his head around and his eyes looked huge in the glass. Lucy was shocked to see tears flowing down Brody’s cheeks and wondered if they were too tight.
‘What’s wrong honey?’ she asked quickly moving to take them off.
‘NO’ he startled her.
‘Why are you crying?’ she asked concerned.
‘How did you do it mommy?’
‘Do what? Find the goggles?’
Lucy was confused ‘what do you mean?’
‘It’s daddy in the goggles.’
‘Honey daddy is gone,’ she said gently wondering what had brought this on.
‘No mom. He’s here. Look.’ He handed her the glasses, glowing with happiness.
Lucy took the glasses turning them around wondering what he meant. ‘Put them on’ he demanded. She did. Her world turned upside down, it was John and her on their first date. She watched in wonder, trying to believe what her eyes were showing her. Tears poured down her face. ‘It’s impossible’ she said, her voice catching.
‘Did you see dad and I on our date?’
Brody looked confused ‘no mom we were together on the boat, the little red one.’
Lucy looked for the boat but was still seeing them on their date. She realized how much she missed him and her heart felt sad but also glad that she could see him in the goggles.
She watched for a while enjoying the memories. There was no sound but she could see the lines on his face, almost feel the caress of his hand. It was a miracle of memory. The picture changed – it was her and John holding Brody just after he was born. Tears coursed silently down their faces and she felt her breath catch as she remembered. It was magical.
Brody tapped her on the shoulder, pulling her out of her reverie with a start.
‘Did you see the boat mommy?’
‘No my love, I saw other pictures with daddy. I saw the day you were born.’
Hugging him close, she let him put the goggles back on as she wondered what they were seeing.
Maybe the box had a clue, she picked it up and wiped the dust off the back. A tiny label in calligraphy writing stated: ‘These are Memory Goggles. Treat them well and they will show you beautiful memories.’
That was all it said. No further information or leaflet. It was a miracle.
For years Lucy and Brody stared into those goggles, enjoying the special memories that they had mostly forgotten. It got them through some hard times, lifting them and reminding them that life could be good.
When Brody was 18 his mother got cancer. He was devastated, she accepting.
Their financial situation allowed them to fight it but it was winning. Brody was broken, watching his precious mother waste away. She was fading fast and he knelt next to her bed, holding her hand and praying. Feeling his mother’s hand on his head, he lifted his tear-stained face.
‘Don’t speak mom.’
‘Brody, I am going to dad.’
‘No’ he protested knowing that it was true.
‘I love you Brody, you are such a good boy.’ He started to cry.
‘You know that I will always be with you?’ Brody looked up.
‘When you miss me, look into the goggles, I will be there.’
Brody nodded, unable to speak as he watched his mother slip away. His heart broke and he sobbed.
Time does heal. Grief eases and the physical pain subsides. Every night Brody would get home from college and put the goggles on. He spent time with his parents, remembering them and loving them.
Eventually he wouldn’t need the goggles anymore. But for now he did…