I started to write a different post earlier today – maybe that one will be for another day. After today, though, this is my time to process my thoughts. You see, life is short and that reminder has been driven home in several ways the past few weeks. Tonight, though, I was reminded to love a little more, because you just never know when God will take you home.
A few weeks ago, I was driving our son home from therapy. Out of the blue, he said, “If you die, I might have another mom.” I assured him that I would be his only mother – his birth mother. But I did agree that if something were to happen, his father was free to remarry, and he may, indeed have another lady who would take care of him, but that I would be his one and only mom.
Right after that… “But if you died, and Daddy died, and Grandma and Granddad died, then they would send us to an orphanage, or whatever you call those places where the kids go who have no parents.”
I was merging onto the highway. To this day, I don’t know how I got onto the highway because my breath caught, my heart skipped some beats and I felt like I’d been sucker-punched.
See, for our son, you have to choose how to answer so very carefully. His own special needs keep him filled with anxiety at times, and the wrong answer could do vastly more damage than any help a good answer could provide.
And in that moment, he said, “Isn’t that right? Isn’t that how it works?”
How do you explain a lifetime of helping friends understand his needs so that he knows he’d have a support system?
And how do you just matter-of-factly say, “Yes, we all might die, and you might be alone,” without falling apart?
And how do you even look that possibility in the face as you snuggle each morning and tuck them in each night?
Then, today happened.
A lady came into the place where I work. She needed help choosing a card and gift for the situation.
And then, this:
She was a special ed teacher who got a call that the mother of two of her students had died.
“If you die, I might have another mom.” I could hear my son’s words echo in my head.
It turns out the mother’s death was very unexpected and almost instantaneous.
And there, in the middle of the store, I found myself wiping my tears.
As much as I didn’t want to even consider my son’s questions, concerns and comments about a new mom, an orphanage, and everyone dying at once, the reality is, it could happen.
Just like the day we were driving home, I felt my breath catch.
The stories of young children who lose their parents are so sad – so very sad.
But for those kids, like mine, who understand life in a different way, the questions, the thoughts, the possibility of the tragedy becoming a reality are so hard to manage properly. You want to answer, but you don’t want to say too much. You want to give them enough information, but not overwhelm them. You want them to be safe, but the question he always comes back with, is, “But how do you know? You won’t be here.”
There aren’t answers in these situations. There really aren’t. There are best options, there are well-laid plans, there is love.
But at the end, all we can do is trust that God will hold us all in the palm of His hand.
That He would keep us until the appropriate time.
That He will protect, nurture, and care for those we love.
Even if we all die at the same time.
Tonight there are two sisters, mourning the sudden and unexpected loss of their mother. There is an aunt providing housing. There is a teacher providing support. But there is no mother anymore. And there are no words to take that pain for them.
Tonight I hurried home
To love a little more.
Because life is short.