The first day of kindergarten I got off the bus to my mom waiting for me with Alyssa, a preschooler, and Jon, a toddler. My siblings had clearly missed me all day as evidenced by their excited chatter, running toward me asking questions about my disappearance. My mom tried to hug me but I froze, my body stiff and my eyes shooting daggers. We walked home in tense silence as everyone wondered what was wrong with me. When we got to the house I went to my room and slammed my door – that was the last straw for my mother.
“That is ENOUGH, young lady! What is the problem?”
My eyes welled up and tears spilled down my little cheeks. My voice quivered as I began to unload my unbearable burden… “I didn’t learn to READ!”
I can distinctly remember the way mom’s eyes changed from angry to relieved to amused. She spoke more softly this time, “Honey, it’s only the first day of school. You have to be patient.”
Everything. All at once. Right now. Not only is it our culture, it is also our human nature. And then, as if out of a science fiction movie, it all changed. Now we wait, forced to comply with regulations and wait out a virus whose identity is veiled at best, challenging the world’s tops minds as it morphs, mutates and changes the rules at its whim. Even Amazon has been affected. (What do you MEAN my Pink Lemonade lip gloss is not essential and I have to wait 5 days even though I pay for Prime membership?)
I’m not scared. I’m genuinely not. I’m being cautious and respectful of the rules and I trust those in power because that’s what I’m called to do, but I am not afraid. It’s not because I’m arrogant or irreverent, but it took a cumulative 15 miles of hiking over a few days to realize the reason for my confidence – God is bigger than this. He knew it would happen and He knows when it will be over. And it WILL be over.
There are things we mourn during this unprecedented time in human history. I have personally mourned the loss of Avery’s senior year to the point of tears and losing actual sleep. He will never get the chance to try for state champion again. I had him pegged for Prom King, like his older brother. But then today happened.
This morning I remembered with such stinging clarity the feeling of saying goodbye to my 30-hour-old baby, kissing his tiny head before they loaded him into the ambulance, unsure of whether or not I would ever get to hold my son again.
I recalled the feeling of panic, a mere 16 months later, of finding him in a pool, floating, eyes open, his little boots soles up…screaming as I fished him out and sobbing with relief as he took a breath. I can close my eyes and still feel the weight of his body, the texture of his soaked jeans, diaper and flannel shirt and how he felt in my arms as I held him to me on my knees thanking God from the deepest depths of a mother’s heart that he was ok.
Either one of those memories could have been my last of him. Right now instead of grieving what would have been his senior year, I get the privilege of lamenting a much less solemn reality. That is a privilege I will not take for granted. So while we mourn of the absence of normalcy, it took today to put it into perspective, as some would give everything they had to live through this uncertain time with their loved one.
We don’t know when our last day on earth may be, but He does, so we are called to live this life like every day could be our last. As inconvenient and disquieting as this situation seems, it may be just what we needed to refocus and pour into the lives of those closest to us, given to us not by accident, but by Providence.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27: 13-14