In the long, snowy, record-breaking Winter that led up to our Outer Banks vacation, I would often imagine myself on the beach in April. I thought, if I can just make it through the cold and snow, I’ll be rewarded there. I imagined myself flat on my back in what I hoped would be hot sand, and picture all of the knots in my shoulders and upper back just melting away. Another image popped into my mind during these Wintry meditations; that of my seventeen year old son lying next to me, also on his back, of us looking at the sky and simply enjoying each other’s company. I guess it was my most heartfelt wish making its way to the surface. These days, my exchanges with my son are mostly about me telling him what needs to be done, or questioning, or nagging. These are important days for him, and there is much to do, but my heart misses just being truly present with my boy as I am able to be with my girl.
Something amazing happened on the very first afternoon we spent in our rented house on the water. My whole family was playing catch on the beach and it was glorious. Who knew how much I had missed just playing with the kids who lived under my very roof, but sadly it had been a long time. After some time passed, I found myself with just my son. He sat in the sand I followed. He lay back directly in the sand, and with a lump in my throat, so did I. It was the exact picture I had in my mind for all those months before, and I immediately knew the grace I had been given. I prayed that someone on the deck above would take this picture, but then I resolved to be present in this sacred moment that God had given to me.
After a time of us being silent there together, I told my son that I had had a vision of exactly this kind of time together. I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be to that, but surprisingly, he took my hand and held on to it. I knew myself to be the luckiest, most blessed mother in the world at that moment. In my mind, I was thanking God and my mother, when a wave came in right under us, shockingly cold, but we held hands even tighter. After that moment, we were on guard for more waves, but none came. I said that maybe the anticipation is the worst part, and he agreed, saying most of the troubles on the horizon will probably never come, even if it seems like they might from a distance. This is real wisdom that I need to remember.
We stayed together there for a long while.
Later, my son ventured into the water on his own, jumped into and over the waves, and dealt with the fierce undertow all on his own terms. But he kept looking back at me and his grandfather with a smile and a wave. He was nervous, and he checked in with us, and he persevered.
This, of course, was a picture of my son in the world at age seventeen and (almost) a half. He holds on to me, we face challenges together, and we hold on tighter. Soon, he will be dealing with the whole world on his own, and he really will be okay, but he will always look back at his beginnings, his family, and his foundation. And we will always cheer and support him, and watch for dangers in the distance. Sometimes we’ll yell out what we see coming, and sometimes he’ll listen. God willing, the worst of it will never materialize. But this kid will be okay, and I’m so grateful to God for giving me this picture, this precious child, this blessed life together.