A little while ago, I walked through glass doors with a breaking heart and tears I couldn’t control.
I’d been holding back those tears for five days, and I couldn’t hold them anymore.
On Friday afternoon, I was packing for a girls’ weekend. My mind was in my suitcase and my spirit was already behind the wheel, flying toward Brandon, where I would be part of a grace-filled gathering with two of my best friends. When my kids arrived home from school, I did the basic “how was your day” chatting and returned to the task at hand – getting the heck out of dodge.
As I was double-checking my list, I heard a knock on the bedroom door. My youngest son called, “Mom,” and I replied, “What?”
I expected to hear a homework question or a request that I sign a paper to send back to school. Maybe he was fighting with his brother and wanted me to referee. Those are the usual interruptions. Instead, I heard these words…
“My friend’s Mom died today.”
I froze. I knew he had a classmate whose mother had cancer. I knew she wasn’t doing well.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
He said yes, but my Mom alarm was ringing louder than any tornado siren. So I told him to open the door.
My 10-year-old son’s face appeared. His skin was pale. His eyes were wide and rimmed in pink.
I asked, “Are you scared?”
And he burst into tears.
So I set aside my packing list and my stack of shirts to fold. I opened my arms wide and let my child run into them. I held on tight while he sobbed. I stroked his hair. I sniffed back my own tears, because he needed me to be his rock right then.
Here is what I didn’t do…
I did not tell him that this horrible thing would never happen to us. I did not tell him that I won’t ever die or get cancer or that everything is going to be okay.
Instead, I told him how scared I was when my friend, Natalie, died. I told him how she’d had two kids about the same age as mine, and that I was terrified the same could happen to me… that I could be taken away from my sons. Then I told him how crippling that fear can be, and that we can’t live with that kind of fear. If we live like that, we don’t really live at all. We have to take life one day at a time and enjoy every second that we can. We have to suck the marrow from the bones, though I used different words to describe it to him.
I left for my girls’ weekend an hour or so later. My heart was both heavy and light, going from the grace-filled tear-filled moments holding my son to the grace-filled laughter-filled moments with my friends. All weekend, I carried with me the sight of David’s pale face and pink-rimmed eyes.
Unbeknownst to me, the day before David came to me with his sad news, a boy a year younger than him committed suicide. The boy went to a school near our home, and I only learned of his death this morning. I went to the bank where they were accepting donations for his funeral expenses and I made a donation. As I walked out of the bank, I thought of my sons, how full of life they are, but also how quickly an impulsive emotion, a stab of mental anguish, a rush of fear, can change everything.
Despair is no different from cancer really. It can kill you slow. It can kill you quick.
Sitting in my car, tears streaming down my cheeks, I wished for hope. I need hope. I need grace. I need Jesus to help me not give into the fear.
I’m typing this now, standing in my Daddy’s doorway, face pale and eyes pink-rimmed. I am scared and all I ask is that He pause a moment and hold me.
Look at the people you pass as you go about your day. Look for those pale faces, those eyes that scream with fear. Reach out a hand and turn a smile on the street into a grace-filled gathering.
Tell me, today, how can you be a moment of hope in this world’s sea of despair?