As I sip my coffee, I look out the window at my son enjoying his new cap gun. He’s been talking about getting one for weeks and was so excited to pick one out. He looks up to make sure I’m watching, as he’s still very much in the “Look, Mom – look at me. Check this out!” stage. Funny how he doesn’t tire of it, though it brings out a mixture of emotions in me. Some “feel good” ones, knowing I have that special place in his heart and he wants to share meaningful moments with me. Some not-so-good ones, though I’m ashamed to admit them. One can be impatience because I’ve been “on-call” watching his play for, well, twenty years. Of course that ushers in guilt that I can even voice such an emotion, though fortunately as I look at him and the joy he’s experiencing it is a fleeting one. So the overwhelming emotion of grief that has been my companion for a good part of the last twenty years re-cycles once again as it makes its presence known.
What are other twenty year olds doing? Other twenty year olds are attending college, starting new jobs, dating, driving cars, and as excited as they are about those things, I’m sure cap guns are probably among the furthest interests from their minds at this point.
And hidden deep inside, there’s an awareness of that within Jordon. As much as he needs a world of black-and-white rules to make sense of life and navigate with the smallest measure of certainty, he lives various shades of gray. In between a boy and a man. Higher functioning autism in some ways, lower in others. He hid the cap gun until we reached the register because “other guys my age don’t buy these, do they, Mom?” He lives a mixture of twenty year old emotions and eight year old interests blended with a mixture of in-between understanding.
How can I say that about him? As I was dusting his dresser, I uncovered various pictures he had ripped from magazines – pictures of older teen guys and girls together, pictures of Dodge chargers, and pictures of K’Nex toys and transformer heroes and Veggie Tales. Truly a picture of the mixture in his life.
The grief recycles throughout each season and milestone, often catching me at inopportune moments as I want to be happy for him with his new toy, yet tears build up behind my eyes and inside my heart.
But…..then I catch myself. There are some twenty year olds who are buying REAL guns, and not just for hunting game. There are some without mothers to watch carefully and enjoy their moments of joy. Some have no mothers around at all, and have to navigate it all alone. Some twenty year olds are driving Dodge chargers while intoxicated or have girlfriends that they treat poorly. And, no, they’re not looking for Mom’s watchful or proud eye to share the moment with. In fact, the moms of those sons may be grieving for another reason, wishing they could experience a moment of joy with their son. Maybe even a moment like I have with mine.
And so I emerge from the shadows into the sunlight as the cycle gives way to thankfulness for what God has given to me and the presence of His companionship. Rays of prayers for other mothers and other sons who don’t share what I have seek out corners of my heart. Though our children may be in different stages or places in life, hopefully we share the same heart. A mother’s heart which brims with prayer, hope, and love.