“Do you think they really sell that?” my son asked, pointing to a photo of a giant stack of burgers on the window outside of Steak ‘n Shake, his choice for dinner since his dad was out of town.
“I don’t know, but if they do, I’m ordering it,” I said, thinking a) it was just an artist rendition, and there’s no way they sell anything that size, and b) if he doesn't finish it, we can take it home, and he can eat on it for the rest of the week.
We went inside and waited to be seated while he got more and more excited over the prospect of his giant meal.
“You mean you’d really buy that for me?” he asked.
“Your dad would kill me, but, yes, yes, I will,” I replied.
“It’s probably $20,” he said.
Thinking the waitress would laugh at us for even asking if it existed, I told him, that even so, I would buy the giant burger. I told him it was worth it for the picture alone.
This was not entirely the truth. The truth is if it had been any ordinary day, I would have nipped his request to get Steak ‘n Shake in the bud. At best, I would have gone through the drive thru and told him no way were going inside just because he thought the milkshakes tastes better in the fancy glasses versus the paper to-go cups. I would have balked at spoiling him in such a way, even if he had just worked pretty hard on the football field. I would have told him that we had plenty of food at home and that he had homework to do, and I was tired from working all day.
Instead, I said OK.
What he didn’t know, and what he will never know, is this was not an ordinary day. Today, someone’s mom was dying. Today, maybe even while we were ordering and devouring our seven-patty burger – which was not on the menu – two little girls, 11 and 9, were losing their mom to cancer.
I didn’t know the woman, but I had gotten to meet her girls at my son’s football game. They were beautiful brown-eyed girls with braids that were twisted with bright pink and purple thread. They were striking, and they were sweet, as they innocently played with the daughter of the nurse who had been caring for their mom. My nurse friend had brought them to the game because their mother was dying - today.
My friend took a photo of them with the game mascot and told them she would frame it and wanted them to remember this day when they got to come and see a football game and have so much fun playing with her little girl. I was thinking, “How could they forget?”
It was a special day, indeed. One I’m sure my son will never forget either, for obviously different reasons. I’m sure he’ll remember me laughing at him trying to fit the entire monster burger in his mouth, marveling at how he finished it before the waitress brought our milkshakes, and him groaning afterward that he’d never order it again.
On this day, he declared me officially the best mom ever. When I saw the greasy cheeseburger, I felt like the worst mom ever. Let’s hope I fall somewhere in between.
I don’t know where the mom who passed away today stood on that scale, but I could tell by the kindness in the eyes of her kids, their simple gratitude at being able to watch a football team from another town - a town that they were only visiting because their mom was terminally ill and in the hospital - that it must have been somewhere very near the top.
(Dedicated to Angela and Ladonna)