Autumn’s crisp is in the air. I can see my breath barely as I step onto the wood planked porch watching you walk down our winding gravel drive to the bus. Your shoulders have broadened and so have your horizons. You’ve left homeschool for high school. With bigger books, with bigger words, you have moved on from all the treasures we read together in your younger years.
I watch you go—your sure steps, your still blonde hair, your body near grown. And this morning, sentimental tears intensify the sun’s rays streaming through the locust leaves. I blink. One drop trickles down my cheek.
Where did our summer days go? How quickly they fade, becoming distant memories. And yet, years gone by seem so close at hand.
I remember you, a fifteen pound little one, barely able to stand. Your Russian nursemaid held you in her arms and brought you to me first, gently handing you over—our new son—and I drew you close for the first time, fourteen years ago. You were nineteen months old and your name was Nicolai. Everyone called you Kola for short. And the director of your orphanage told me in Russian, “Kola makes me laugh.” She knew you.
You still make me laugh, Kola. And you now make me cry. I cry joyful, grateful tears over you, enjoying our present, remembering our past.
Do you remember the countless nights we sat, side-by-side, in our cozy blue Lazy Boy rocker reading books before bed? Do you remember how fast you were at finding Goldbug in your favorite book, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go? Do you remember looking for Goose in Barnyard Banter? Do you remember competing for who could honk loudest at the end of the book? I do.
And do you remember all the costumes you collected and wore—the lion, the parrot, the rabbit? And remember how you turned your Star Wars uniform into a Roman emperor’s? Remember how I made you a foil crown while you made a foil ring? And remember how you made me kneel and kiss your hand as my pledge of allegiance to you? I do.
Then you grew bigger, and so did your rear, and we laughed so hard the night we both tried to sit side-by-side in our blue Lazy Boy rocker and realized we both couldn’t fit. We squealed joy as we wrestled for the chair. You won. You’re bigger and stronger than I now, the one who once carried you in her arms.
Now you laugh each time you pick me up, at least once daily, and I yell like a drama queen, “Don’t hurt me! I’m OFF—Old, Feeble, and Frail!”
And how you still like to pretend you’re asleep in the mornings just so I’ll come in and kiss your cheek, then shake you good—you like that, don’t you? And you love sitting up fast and blasting me with halitosis so I make an Oscar-worthy drop-over-dead scene right there on your bed, don’t you?
And on moonless summer nights we still scurry about our yard—in the field—hunting up fireflies and filling the jar, our lantern in the dark. We don’t ever grow too old to catch fireflies, do we?
All this fun—all this joy—all this crazy blessing—do you know why? I do.
All this bliss came because my body would not conceive a child.
So take it from me and learn it from you, what we think we want most in this life is but a shadow of what God wants to give. Many years ago, I grieved what my body couldn’t conceive but my problem wasn’t my body. My problem was my mind. For God tells us this:
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. I Corinthians 2:9
Though you are older and bigger and taller today, still you stay sweet. I know you won’t mind me saying how you still find me at the end of your days to kiss my cheek. And I kiss yours back. And the last words we say to each other before drifting off into our own separate nights, in our own separate space, is “I love you.” Nice words. True words. Words that lull one into peaceful slumber and shore one up for the coming day.
You are a gift I never take for granted, Nick.
Remember the gift you are and the gifts you’ve been given. Remember today is only the beginning of an eternity of tomorrows filled with God’s grace for you. Remember when disappointments come and tears flow, better is coming your way. Soak it all in—the bitter and the sweet. Eat it all up.
You are blessed.
And so am I—to have you as my God-given son—to have become, in God’s own way of blessing—a mother.