"Are you looking for anything in particular, sir?”
A tall lanky blonde with horn-rimmed glasses and a bright pink nametag with “Angela” emblazoned on it approached the man--he couldn’t have been older than 21, really--as he stared blankly at the baby clothes hanging on a circular rack in front of him.
“Oh, um, yeah, I am. I was just thinking and got a bit distracted. My wife is in the hospital with the baby, and I need to find an outfit for him to go home in.”
“So, your wife didn’t take care of that before? Most moms pick out that outfit when they’re still in their first trimester.” Angela bubbled.
“Marilyn was on bed rest most of the pregnancy.” The man’s voice was soft and strained.
Angela nodded. “So, can I help you pick something out, Mr….?”
“Just call me John.”
“OK, John. What exactly are you looking for?”
“I think I’ll know it when I see it. All I know is it has to be preemie sized, and definitely for a boy.”
Angela smiled and pointed toward a rack to their left. “The preemie clothes are over there. Do you want me to help you pick something out?”
John shook his head. “I think I can handle it. Thanks, though.”
Angela walked toward the cash register, keeping John in her sights out of the corner of her eye.
The woman at the register smiled as Angela approached. “Hey, what’s up, Angie?”
“Not sure, Darlene.” Angela leaned her arm on the register. “That guy over there is picking out an outfit for his newborn son, but he sure doesn’t seem very excited about it.”
Darlene shrugged. “Maybe it was an unwanted pregnancy. At least he’s buying the kid something.”
“True, I guess.” Glancing into the sales area, Angela noticed John walking toward the register. “Better scoot.”
John approached the register, placed a small blue outfit on Darlene’s counter, and then reached into his back pocket.
Darlene smiled. “Did you find everything you needed, sir?”
John nodded. “How much do I owe you?”
“Your total comes to $15.27.”
John pulled a $20 bill out of his wallet and handed it to Darlene. John took the change she offered and shoved it into his wallet. He grabbed the outfit, which Darlene had placed in a bag, and walked out.
The beeps and buzzers in the NICU were quite active. John walked over to a blonde who was leaning over an incubator in the middle of the room. He rested his hand on her shoulder and squeezed.
“Anything new, sweetheart?” John’s voice was barely above a whisper.
She sighed. “The same. He doesn’t have much time now. Doc said he won’t make it through the night.”
John wrapped his arms around his wife’s delicate frame. “I got it, Marilyn. I hope it’s what you want.”
“Oh, John, I’m sure it’s fine.”
Marilyn turned and faced her husband, looking into his eyes. “You really don’t think it’s silly, going and spending money on an outfit for him?”
John caressed the side of her face. “Of course not, Mari. Our little Benny needs a home from the hospital outfit, even if it isn’t our home he’s going to.”
The two embraced for a good two minutes.
John broke the silence. “So, do you want to see what I picked?” he whispered in her ear.
She let go of him, and nodded. John pulled a blue bunting out of the bag. The front of the outfit was adorned with the words “100% angel.”
“Oh, John, it’s perfect!” She kissed him gently on the cheek, then bowed her head.
“Heavenly Father, thank you so much for my wonderful husband, and for giving us Benjamin, even if it was only for a short time. Comfort us in this time, and help us to know that our little angel is going Home – to a better home than we could ever provide.”