I wasn’t looking forward to substituting at the preschool that morning. Five months had passed since my two-year-old daughter, Hannah, had died, and I knew it would be hard for me to be around kids her age. I only said yes after the preschool director promised to assign me to the class of older kids. But I couldn’t help feeling the emptiness around me as I drove to the school without Hannah. I longed to feel one of her big hugs, letting me know that everything would be okay.
Somehow, I managed to make it through the morning session. Before I knew it, it was time for recess. I brought the class into the gym. So far, so good, I thought. That’s when I saw them—the class of two-year-olds walking in right behind us. A bunch of the younger kids started running around, playing with a kickball. I watched a girl I had never seen before chase the ball across the floor. Her hair was light brown and long with bangs, just like my daughter had had. Hannah should be here too, I thought. She should be playing with these kids. I fought to hold back the tears. I just missed her so much.
Suddenly the ball bounced away from the kids and rolled toward me. The little girl took off after it, her arms outstretched. But as the ball rolled past me, the girl didn’t follow. Instead, she turned toward me.
What does she want?
I knelt down and the little girl came over to me, wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big, long bear hug. I was so stunned I couldn’t react. I just closed my eyes. For a moment, I was feeling the fierce warmth of Hannah’s embrace once again. Finally, she let go. “Thank you so much, sweetheart,” I managed to say. “What’s your name?”
“Hannah,” she said. Could God have touched me in a more perfect way?