I don’t know how my voice carried like it did. I’d lost it the day before and sounded like a frog.
“Luke, H-E-L-P I’m bleeding,” I croaked.
Normally I’d have to sound a bullhorn to get one of my children out of their basement oasis—but to my surprise when I needed him most my oldest came running.
“What happened Mom?” he said startled.
“I cut my finger—get me another towel from the laundry room. I can’t stop the bleeding.”
He jumped into service grabbing what I needed.
“Do you need me to take you to the hospital?”
“Let me see,” I said carefully peeling back the towel.
“Oh yeah, I’m taking you,” he said peering over my shoulder.
He found my shoes and wallet and had me tucked into the car in under five minutes.
We decided to go to the Urgent Care but when they didn’t have a doctor available for hours Luke got mad and put me back in the car to go to the Emergency Room.
When we got there he charged in and said to the noticeably young EMT, “Hey man my Mom needs some help and the stupid Urgent Care doesn’t have a doctor.”
I was embarrassed by his forcefulness but it definitely got things moving. Faster than expected we were out the door with my finger in much better shape than when we arrived.
Driving home Luke announced, “I have to make a stop at the store—it won’t take long.”
“What? Why do you need to stop?”
“I just have to,” he said taking the same tone with me he had the EMT.
“Whatever,” I said laying my head back.
It took longer than the few minutes he’d promised and sitting in the care I grew weary quickly. I couldn’t believe he didn’t have the sense to run whatever errand he had later.
When he returned he reached in the car and said, “I thought you could use this,” handing me my favorite—a Venti Black Iced Tea from Starbucks. My heart and parched throat softened at the sight of it.
“I wanted to stop and get one but didn’t want to ask,” I said.
“Well I knew you’d want one and wouldn’t ask so that’s why I insisted.”
“You know me better than I think you do.”
“Yeah,” he said proudly.
In the days that followed I grew very sick. My finger taking a backseat to the worst case of pneumonia I’d ever had. Weak and weepy my consolation in the whole ordeal was that Luke was between jobs and home to help me—which he did with more nursing skills than I knew he had. From soup to doctor’s appointments and prescription runs he took care of everything I needed.
One afternoon a few days into it he left the house to run an errand and came back with another tea for me. He set it down on the counter and asked if I felt well enough to talk for a few minutes.
“Yes, what’s up?” I said.
“I just want to apologize to you. I know the last few years have been rough with me and I’m sorry about that.”
I smiled and started to respond when he cut me off.
“It’s like I’ve been having a life crisis and totally lost my way. I was wrong about so many things and you were trying to tell me that but I wouldn’t listen. I said some awful things to you. It was like a train wreck. I derailed.”
His head and shoulders slumped in shame.
“It’s okay Luke. I don’t want you to be ashamed. It’s all part of growing up. I’m not mad at you.”
“Yeah but I was awful.”
“You were just deceived and the trouble with being deceived is that if you knew you were you wouldn’t be.”
He paused trying to figure out what I’d just said.
“But I never should have accused you of not being supportive.”
“I know, but I forgive you. You’re my son. Anything can be forgiven.”
“Sweetie you don’t have to thank me. Let’s just move on and not focus on the past.”
“I’ll do better Mom I really will.”
He came over and gave me a rare hug.
They reminded me of the promise God had given me a year earlier when Luke left for the summer on bad terms. In the months that followed, as I pleaded with God on his behalf, the Holy Spirit reminded me over and over that in some way we are all the Prodigal Son. We lose our way and have to discover on our own we’ve gone the wrong direction.
To survive watching the train wreck I’d have to trust that God would get him where He wanted him eventually. Nothing I could say or do would bring him back to the truth. Luke would have to have his own epiphany.
As a parent accepting this was counterintuitive. One of the most basic instincts you have is to show your kids what they can’t see. To let go and take God at His word felt like He was asking me to take a leap of faith wider than the Grand Canyon—which of course He was.
Iced tea and pennies in hand I was too sick to cry but not so sick I couldn’t praise God for bringing things full circle. He did what He said He would do—proving again in my life I can trust His still small voice. At some point in the journey, parenting is about letting go and trusting that what you hold dear will return to you.
“Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 NKJV