It had been a rough week of storm after raging thunderstorm the year of our first full Spring in Tennessee.
I had no way of knowing if weather like this was normal or not but honestly, I didn’t mind. Thunderstorms have always been my favorite.
These were good times…sweet times for us as a family. A decent move to a new station in a better market meant more stability for my photojournalist husband. Now we were only 4 hours away from our Georgia home and family versus half way across the country in Nevada.
And that day, sleeping peacefully in the back seat of our station wagon, was our 4 week old son. We were on our first outing together while Daddy and big sister did their thing back home.
We had just finished up with his one month well check and since he was doing so well, I figured this was as good a time as any to run some errands while I was still in town.
Pulling into the strip mall, I made a mental note of the dark clouds gathering in the western sky just as the first few drops of rain hit the windshield. No umbrella…and the sky opened up.
“Oh well,” I thought, “the baby is sleeping so I’ll take some time to straighten out the checkbook till the storm passes”.
Turning off the engine, with amusement I noticed the shoe store ahead of me was having a sidewalk sale and thought, “Who in the world would want to buy rained on shoes at ANY price?!?”
Funny how certain details get burned into your mind.
There really was no time, not a split second more, before that thought was interrupted by the hammering sound of wind and flying…hail? Dirt? Rain? What?!?!… spraying my car with the force of a sandblaster.
Each thought could only occupy a fraction of space and time and as the car began to rock and sway, lifting off the ground to one side….I knew: tornado.
The unspoken force of that single word with all of it’s meaning exploded with lightening force through my mind, snapping my body into a single motion, flying half bent over the driver’s seat to shield my baby boy.
And the windows blew in.
Glass, dirt, rain,
roar, wind, pain,
“Lord have mercy! Lord have MERCY!”
The silence was nearly as intense as the storm.
I rose to see that seven of the eight windows were gone, raining bits of glass from my head and back into the carseat below… where my child…my son… lay sleeping, a halo of broken glass around his head and body. True story.
The storms that day, at the peak of the noonday lunch hour almost 18 years ago, left a huge swath of damage through the area. Miraculously, no one was killed or seriously injured. I was treated for minor cuts at the local hospital and released to a very grateful husband and father. At some point, I’m pretty sure the boy finally woke up to eat!
And today, that strong and courageous, gentle and sweet soul; my son, turns eighteen.
My heart swells and my eyes get teary just thinking about it.
Eighteen years of legos, star wars, broken arms and stitches, artistically carved spears and swords, guns and bows and knives and My Little Pony?!? Er…um “Brony”.
Growling and fussing, Close encounters of the dangerous kind, X-box, dub step, first deer, first prom, first car…
..eighteen years with another seeing, feeling and thinking, passionate soul much like myself.
A man…. my son.
Bittersweet as it is to reach this milestone and recognize the days of our life together under one roof are coming to a close, the next chapter of his story is really the one we’ve been writing and preparing for all these years: manhood.
I couldn’t grasp it then but it’s very clear now; this is the very reason I covered and protected him in that first storm and through the many “storms” that would follow; release.
Releasing him with God’s help, into manhood with as much faith, wisdom and training as any mother is able to impart to her child, has been the goal all along.
And I do. I release him with much love.
Today, I want him to know I am so proud the man he is becoming. I pray he’ll continue to learn how to lead well and lean hard into God as his guide as he goes, trusting in His care and always… throughout all of life’s storms, I pray he’ll always know the way Home.