In his delightful book, Windows of the Soul, Ken Gire says that God often opens windows for us—framing a moment in such a way that we must pause at the window. As we stop and listen there, we receive something eternal, a gift from God’s heart to ours. He gave a window to our family yesterday, on Mother’s Day.

We’d driven south of the city on an adventure and ended up at “Big Rock,” a glacial boulder the size of an apartment block, shattered into halves and splinters. We spent a good part of the afternoon climbing, exploring, and conquering it’s many faces and fissures, and finally it was time to leave. On the path back to the van we crossed paths with a daddy and his daughter on the way toward Big Rock. They were holding hands and clutching an enormous balloon, the silver kind with big seams and a green and pink message emblazoned on the front: “Happy Mother’s Day!”

“Aren’t you glad you didn’t get a tacky balloon?” I whispered to Shauna when the two had passed.

“What I’m afraid of,” she replied, “Is that the mom is dead.” I turned to watch them and snapped this picture. My heart told me she was right.

A moment later, Noah remembered that he and his brother had forgotten their sweaters on one end of the big rock. I volunteered to go back for the sweaters, curious about the balloon and hoping I’d discover more about the mysterious daddy and daughter. I took Hero, our scrappy Cairn terrier, with me.

Circling the rock, I quickly found the sweaters and opted to meander around the side where daddy and daughter were. They’d found a quiet spot and were kneeling on a patch of old straw strewn over the ground to cover the spring mud. Not wanting to be overly snoopy, I kept walking, hoping to overhear a clue—until Hero dug in his heels and dropped his tummy to the ground, refusing to go another step. It was weird. Until I realized God had orchestrated the moment. I was being invited deeper into the window.

“Is there anything you want to say?” Daddy asks quietly.

“That I love her,” Daughter replies.

Wow. A sacred moment, so pure and painful. So Shauna was right. Hero got up, suddenly allowing me to walk him, so we left Daddy and Daughter to themselves. I glanced back a minute later, only to see the balloon traipsing its way into the vast sky. A gift to a mother on mother’s day. A mother no longer with us. Reflective, I padded back to the van to rejoin my family and we enjoyed a snack together. Soon Daddy and Daughter returned to their own vehicle, walking past us very slowly, still hand in hand.

I wanted to say something, to fix something, to run over and crush them in a hug, but it was not my place. Later, as we drove off—the four of us and our mommy—I clasped Shauna’s hand even more passionately, deeply thankful. Her eyes spoke the same words: “I’m glad I’m here. I love you.” We smiled knowingly at each other, exchanging a kiss. But this won’t leave my mind.

Lord, why have you graced me with this window? What would you like me to see?

The girl is so young, almost too young to understand. Will she remember her mother when she grows up? Will the balloon seal her memory in daughter’s heart? Do they know you, Jesus, or do they bear the ache of their loss all alone? Did the balloon soar into an empty sky, or was it like a prayer, a symbolic offering that floated its way into heaven, where her mommy is already at peace in your arms?

Jesus, what do you have in this window for my readers?