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Nancy Kennedy / Grace Notes

My favorite and only granddaughter, Caroline, turns 20 this month.

She’s in her second year of college, and life is good.

Thinking about her, I was remembering when she was 7 and her mom, my daughter, Alison, telling me about Caroline hollering to her friends in the neighborhood, “Yo! What up, homies?”

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Alison said at the time that she was both horrified and amused. “I don’t remember giving birth to a gangsta,” she said.

We both laughed over that.

A few weeks after that, Caroline hosted her first-ever slumber party. An hour or so into the party, as the girls slid on pillows on the hardwood floor, Caroline’s pillow stopped but she didn’t and she ended up eating the HARDwood floor.

Party guests went home crying while Caroline, with a fat lip and a broken permanent front tooth, cried all the way to an emergency Saturday night dental appointment.

She came home with a retainer-like device on her front teeth to help them reattach to the bone and a whole lot of tooth-colored filling material added to the broken tooth, which would be sanded down later to look more like a tooth and less like a blob.

Plus, she fractured two teeth’s roots and had to undergo a root canal.

Not fun for a kid of any age.

Because Alison had gone to school for dental assisting, she knew what was going on and that everything would be OK. But as a mom, she hurt for her child.

How well I know that hurt!

She said having to send Caroline’s friends home was torture as Caroline wailed, “But it’s my first sleepover!”

Alison said that was torture for her to hear. It’s never easy to see your child in any kind of pain, physical or emotional. When your baby cries, no matter how old she may be, that’s your flesh, and when your flesh cries, you cry, too.

Sometimes we parents can help ease our child’s pain, but we can never erase it. When Alison told me about Caroline’s teeth, she said she wished she could trade places with her.

I know that feeling, too.

As a mom, you would give anything to bear your child’s pain. I wished that I could bear Alison’s pain of wishing she could bear Caroline’s.

Times like that are a reminder that this world is broken and it hurts. A lot.

Maybe this feeling of wanting to trade places is God’s way of reminding us that he’s an empathetic Father.

Just imagine his agony over watching his Son die on a cross.

God knows our pain. He has compassion for our suffering. He’s not uncaring or uninterested or untouched by the things that touch us. He’s right there with us as we cry.

When the people of Israel said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me” (Isaiah 49:14), God answered, “Could a mother forget a child who nurses at her breast? Could she fail to love an infant who came from her own body? Even if a mother could forget, I will never forget you.”

A mother’s love is fierce, but our Father’s love is even greater.

So, yo, homies. Dat’s what up.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria – I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

Nancy Kennedy can be reached at 352-564-2927 or by email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

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