Your turn the key to the ignition and slowly put the car into drive. Both teens, wiped out from a day of skiing, are asleep before the tires finish crunching their way out of the slushy, muddy, salty parking lot. You remind yourself again that driving them up to the mountain was a great decision, despite the time and the cold hours spent sitting in the “day lodge”. These moments are few and far between. With the one sitting next to you and his buddy in the back seat headed off to college next year, times like these will all too soon be only a memory.
You hit the road, a winding one lane mountain lane filled with hairpin twists and turns. You think to yourself, “I’m so glad I’m driving. He’s not ready for this yet.” … happy to be able to shelter him in this way for just a bit longer. Your mind flits to 18 year olds his age who are serving our country in the military, who are already heads of families (come perhaps all too soon), who are imprisoned for life due to bad choices at early ages, who have no idea what they are doing tomorrow, let alone next year… He seems so young, and yet he is increasingly a man…
You slow down and pull into one of the many “turnouts” along the winding highway, allowing others to pass. “We’re not ready to go that fast. We need to take this road a little more slowly. Go ahead, speed if you want… we’re going to take a more leisurely, cautious path…”
Then you remind yourself that this is the precise reason you didn’t want him to drive. You slow down, a bit, but admit to yourself that the exhilaration of the curves in the road and the uncertainty about what lies immediately ahead are part of the joy. You drive the speed limit, but not much less than that, concentrating and trying to anticipate the twists and turns.
Roadkill. You swerve around it, feeling sorry for both the victim and the one who was unable to adjust their course in time. Life is filled with roadkill — moments we would have avoided if we could have better prepared for them. Yuck.
Your ears pop as you begin to descend to your more normal altitude. Still they slumber. You’re almost home, almost back to the grind. You’re tired, but in a good way, filled with a sense of realization that this has been the best possible way to spend your day. Not every moment needs to be “productive”. And besides, they needed you – right?
Do they still need you? You smile to your almost-fifty-year-old self as you instinctively ponder calling your own mom to ask her what she thinks. You realize the answer is “Yes”. The need is different, less hands-on, evolving. Your bonds are shifting, part of your job at this point is to begin to let go, but to be at the ready when needs arise, constantly serving as prayer warrior for these precious treasures.
You pull into the driveway. Home. Changed. Refreshed. Tired. In love.