There was soft knock at my door yesterday, and when I called out, he opened it. My Ash-man popped his head in. “Hi, Mom.” he said softly, “Can I come in?”
I patted the bed next to me, and he slipped in the room. As he curled up beside me I marveled at how long and lanky he is becoming. I could still feel the chill of the evening air on him as he rested his head on my shoulder. He smelled like the outdoors and a bit like a sweaty boy since he had just come home from running track.
“How are you?” he asked. I told him about my day, although there wasn’t much to tell. I was struggling with insomnia and had only slept 3 hours after my surgery. His head shot up, “You’re not sleeping?! What’s wrong?” I reassured him that it was nothing, that I was okay, that he didn’t need to worry.
He took my hand in his and sat quietly.
“Are YOU okay?” I whispered.
He shrugged, then nodded, then shook his head. “I don’t know.”
“Are you worried about me?”
He was silent.
“I’m okay, buddy. I’m healing from surgery. My pain is decreasing. They didn’t see any scar tissue. I. am. okay.”
He sighed, “I know. But…”
I made him sit up so I could see his eyes, pools of black, “Please tell me?” I asked.
“What if something unexpected happens?” he whispered thickly.
And my heart broke into a million pieces right then and there.
“Oh, my buddy.” I pulled him close not caring that the embrace hurt my incisions.
“It’s happened before.” he said, “And I’m so afraid it will happen again. I’m not ready for the unexpected.”
Once again I felt the gamut of emotions run through me. This fierce anger then this terrible sadness then this unspeakable joy… We talked as the room darkened in the twilight.
“I am okay, Buddy,” I told him, preaching as much to myself as to him, “But it’s more than that. I am in God’s hands. We all are. He has numbered my days. He has numbered your days. And He won’t mess it up. If we live wondering what tomorrow will hold, we will miss out on today. And look at all today holds.”
He ducked his head and smiled, “I know all that, Mom. I just want to believe it.”
I want that, too. I want all that I know to be easy to believe.
Oh, my boy. My boy who is growing too quickly into a man. My boy who must wrestle with all the challenges that becoming a middle schooler brings must also wrestle with all this, too.
I want to scream. I want this to end. I want him to be able to be carefree and not wonder when the next unexpected thing will happen to his mom. I want him to not know this fear, this pain.
But that is not reality. This is the life we live.
And instead of wishing it were different, I want him to know that God is with him. I want him to learn to walk with God through the trials, not hide his head in the sand as if trials did not exist. I want to point him to Jesus and have him find comfort there. I want him to learn how to be real with others and not bottle it all up inside. I want him to live this life with the boisterous exuberance that is such a wonderful part of his personality, not because he doesn’t care about the hard things, but because he knows true joy.
It’s still there, you know, that spot under my chin where his baby head once fit. I’m convinced it grows with him, and he tucked his head under my chin as my arm encircled him. We said no more. He found a book and snuggled up next to me and we read together as night fell, quiet in each other’s presence, his head on my shoulder.
It’s not just Ash-man, although he shows it the most. My children all need the hugs. They need them more these days than usual. My arms and my love.
They are bearing heavy burdens.
I await answers and I pray for nothing more. Please, Lord, nothing more?
But I cling, knowing that even if I have a hard time believing, it doesn’t change truth.
God is good.
There is a reason.
He is with us.
We have today.
For Our Children
Father, hear us, we are praying,
Hear the words our hearts are saying,
We are praying for our children.
Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril,
From the whirlpool that would suck them,
From the treacherous quicksand, pluck them.
From the worldling’s hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Holy Father, save our children.
Through life’s troubled waters steer them,
Through life’s bitter battle cheer them,
Father, Father, be Thou near them.
Read the language of our longing,
Read the wordless pleadings thronging,
Holy Father, for our children.