We spent an evening over at Jessica’s sisters’ to celebrate a couple birthdays. (Happy birthday, sweetie!) There are some steps up into where they live, so I did what I usually do: I carried Namine up in her wheelchair.

In the summertime, Namine usually just wheels right up the hill. It’s not a big hill, and there are only a few steps. But in winter, with snow? Not really an option. But I digress.

When it was time to leave, I did the same: I knelt down, so Namine could wrap her hands around my neck. I reached down and grabbed the front bottom and back parts of the wheelchair frame, and picked it up with Namine in it.

The new wheelchair is a little lighter than its predecessor, but it’s larger. So what I lose in weight, I gain in awkwardness and bad leverage, resulting in pretty much the same experience. It’s still easier than carrying Namine in one arm, and the wheelchair in the other (which can also be done, because I’ve done it).

When we got to the bottom of the steps, I carefully set Namine down, and like I always do, I gave her a hug. And Namine did what she always does after I carry her: she hugged me back, gave me a kiss, and said thank you.

After Namine was in the car, I started to put the wheelchair in the back. As I was doing so, a woman pulling out of the parking lot stopped to talk to me.

“Is that your daughter that you just carried down the steps?” I said yes. “I just wanted to stop and say that was the sweetest thing I’ve seen anyone do. I wish my ex-husband had loved his kids as much as you love your daughter. I hope you have a merry Christmas.”

I thanked her, and wished her a merry Christmas as well. It hurt my heart so much to hear about her ex-husband. But I suppose it’s like we tell Namine: we can’t control others; we can only control ourselves, and how we react to others.