In September 2003, Mark and I went to Boothbay Harbor, Maine for the wedding of his best Peace Corps buddy. I happened to be both six months pregnant with Braedan and one week shy of losing my beloved grandmother, so I was, to say the least, a little emotional. We were tooling around the town one day, looking in the little shops, when I stumbled upon Story People.  Story People are these drawings of crazy, fantastical people with short “stories” written into the artwork. (In my opinion, the stories themselves are the artwork.) They’re poignant and funny, heart-breaking and beautiful, and they made me cry, right then and there in the store. Mark shrugged sheepishly and offered up my pregnancy as an excuse, but the guy behind the counter assured us that at least one customer each day cries when reading the Story People.

I bought this one and this one for Braedan’s nursery, and they now hang on Austin’s walls. They’re my favorite gifts for when people have babies or find the one they’ve been waiting for (I bought this one for Mark, who happened the be just the one I was waiting for). And then, following the death of one of our favorite fellow patients, I sent this one to her mother. I felt guilty about it afterwards because it was so heart-breakingly sad, but I figured there was no way for her to be any sadder than she already was and at least there was some small beauty in this.  And sometimes some small beauty is all you have.

Today, I have another Story People print ready to hang on our wall.  I actually bought it a year ago as part of a buy-three, get-the-fourth-free deal and was saving it to use as a possible gift. But I’ve realized that it fits no home more perfectly than our own.  People the world over and throughout history have spent time, money and energy seeking out the extraordinary. Extraordinary adventures and accomplishments, extraordinary wealth and fame . . . but I have learned (the hard way) that it is the ordinary moments that make life beautiful. Today we walked to the grocery store, colored Easter eggs, blew bubbles in the backyard. Tonight we’ll make homemade pizza with the boys spreading the sauce and fighting over shreds of cheese, we’ll read books together and snuggle up before bed. We’ll kiss our children goodnight and head downstairs for a glass of wine and a brief hour of quiet.  We will be ordinary people doing unremarkable things. And it will feel remarkably extraordinary.

This is the song that was used as the backdrop to Austin’s Miracle Story for the Rainbow Radiothon last fall. Sit back and listen to both, especially that line that says “Isn’t it exceptional how everything works out after all,” then wipe your tears and go hug someone you love. It is indeed exceptional.

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