It was one of those clean out times when kids don't get asked whether their junky stuff stays or goes. A couple months ago, while Story slept one evening, Superman went in the bag with lots of other trinket toys. The donation bin sat in our garage for six weeks at least, until finally, the day after Thanksgiving, a haul was made to the Goodwill.
And then, as the story would surely go, the day after the drop off, Story asked me where her Superman was. I told her he had been in a bin in the garage for a long, long time, but that he had just been taken away yesterday to Goodwill.
You would have thought it was a new Christmas gift or at least a Lego Ninjago character. Story hasn't played with that Superman in as long as I can remember, but she knew it would be there the day she decided she wanted it. Except somebody was tired of picking up random toys just because the kids wanted empty bins to use as desks for playing school.
Story cried and cried. First on Saturday, and then again on Sunday. She asked if we could stop by the Goodwill and I told her maybe. She asked again on the way home from church, and I told her they might be closed. She didn't ask a third time but something (or Someone) made me ask myself what Story needs.
It was the movement of grace that led me that Sunday afternoon to tell Story I'd take her to the Goodwill. She wasn't expecting it, and neither was I. My pattern is to expect that you deal with loss the best you can, and you may or may not have someone who wants to help you. But if Story doesn't have Superman and she also doesn't have me, we're sunk.
I had planned to buy Story a different toy at the Goodwill to make up for her loss. Yet something in me was determined to look my hardest and find that little hero if he was in the store anywhere. I knew they may have distributed our donations to another store or may not have even sorted our stuff yet. I was prepared, with this outing, to buy a replacement toy as a bandaid for Story's disappointment.
But the power of wow was unleashed as we started looking. Story and I were walking together and working together to browse the whole store. There isn't a toy section, per se, so we looked in various toy bins scattered about. We were happy to be looking, and even if we didn't find Superman, I was sure we were in the right place for healing to happen. The magic started on our second go 'round the store when I saw a couple other toys we had donated mixed in the bins of toys. Story didn't care about those, but we were both delighted to know our stuff hadn't been relayed elsewhere, and we were hopeful Superman might be among us.
I prayed a silent prayer that if Superman was in the store, we would be able to find him. And just like that, about two minutes later, sadness mixed with hopefulness turned to complete joy for Story. Neither of us could stop smiling. I couldn't believe it, except I could.
Of course we bought back what used to be ours...because sometimes we get chances for redemption that are just like this. We have a story that is better because of brokenness and loss, because of waiting and seeking, and because of solidarity with others. Superman's story is the story of all of us.
And for all he went through, and for all we went through, Superman is here to stay.