You stayed home from school yesterday. You had a bit of an upset stomache and you were feeling a little queasy, so we decided to let you ride this one out at home.
First you read Bridge to Terabithia in your cozy bed with the red and camo sheets. You are in a reading club at school called Battle of the Books and you are reading through your list of books pretty quickly. You’ll be ready to help your school’s team battle it out against the other schools next month. You’ll be an amazing contributor when they quiz your team on what they’ve read. I love being an assistant coach for the team and I enjoy stepping into your school every week to meet with the small group of kids who love to read.
Then you chatted with your dad and I after we had our in-house ministry meeting. You heard us discussing what’s on the agenda this week for church-planting and mission/service in our lives. You didn’t really want to talk about that stuff too much, although it does interest you to know what your parents are up to.
Mostly you wanted to talk about sports. You love to watch sports these days. Just about anything – basketball, football, hockey, even curling seems to excite you. You love to watch the plays of the week and chat with us about the players. I can’t believe the knowledge that seems to be growing inside you – you could be a commentator or a coach no problem! It makes me wonder how this new-found passion will fit into your future self.
You played some sports video games while your dad and I finished chatting and your dad headed out the door for the rest of the day. I got a few things done on the computer, then we had some lunch together. For you it was something light – peanut butter and banana on English muffin.
Then we went for a walk together. I told you that was part of the deal if you stayed home yesterday. This would be my first official walk in months, since somehow I had really twisted up my back & hips in recent months. You have been so concerned for me, helping me when I needed it, telling me you hope I feel better soon. And I do. The physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments are doing wonders, and finally I am getting better.
We ventured out into the winter wonderland around our house. It was only minus 5 when we left our home, the sky was blue, and the sun was shining bright. Not even one minute into our walk, you proceeded to throw your Nerf-style football over the neighbour’s fence and we had to figure out how to get it back before continuing on our journey. We put our heads together and discovered a solution. We were on our way again.
We crossed the train tracks by our house and headed to the main road that led to the view of the huge lake in our town. I have walked this path countless times in the last 10 years – first pushing strollers, then hauling bike trailers, then walking alongside bikes with training wheels, then riding my own bike alongside boys and BMX’s or scooters, and now walking side by side with young men taller than me or just about as tall as me. Wow, sometimes it hits me, how things have changed.
You love this, Elijah. This walking with me in the winter sunshine, looking out over the ice-covered lake. You point out to me all the landmarks you know so well – the ice-fall over the rocks, the place where you skated first this year, and the building where the corner-store used to be. You remember going there for licorice so many times, and the people who used to live & work there, and their little dog who used to greet us customers. You have really good memories of growing up here, in this neighbourhood in Northern Ontario. I am so glad for this.
You tell me to look at where we live. You ask me if it gets any better than this? No, of course not, Elijah. This is your home and you love it. Thank God. You dream about buying our house and living in it yourself one day. It is the only home you have ever known. My heart is so full to the brim to know that your childhood has been a good one, here in this tiny piece of the world.
We sit on the blue bench that someone has cleared a path through the snowbanks for people to get to. I’ve been coming to this spot, on this huge rock, since before the benches were added to this scenic lookout. We would throw rocks from this spot, hoping to get them onto the train tracks below. Beyond the tracks are a few trees and then the lake. You tell me how beautiful it all is, that you love to look for a long time at the scenery and notice new things about it. Ah – there I am, I knew I was in there somewhere! You sound just like me when you talk like that.
Then you say the most wonderful thing. You tell me that these moments with me, or your dad, these special times – they make all the bad stuff in the world fade away. And you fill my heart to overflowing, and I look at your sparkly blue eyes and the freckles on your cheeks, and I thank God for you. I thank Him for the reminders that came from you today – that life is wondrously good, that healing does come, that family is what truly matters, that beauty awaits just outside our door, that God can meet with us anywhere and anytime.
Neither of us wants to leave our moment in the sun, but the winter chill comes and it’s time to head back. Not before snapping a picture of a train coming out of the rock, with you smiling your goofy smile in the foreground.
Your headache starts around dinner time, and that means we won’t be joining your dad at the university church plant. So we stay home and enjoy some fresh-made bread (thank you for asking me to make that – I love knowing how to do that!) and eggs with your big brother.
As I chat with you before bed you have more wonderful words for me – you tell me about the beauty you see in me and how much love you have in your heart for me. Oh Elijah, if only you knew how much I need to hear those words from your not-even-10-year-old lips.
It takes you a while to fall asleep, but you lay under the woven blanket that took me years to make – first a baby blanket for your crib, and then a big-boy blanket to cover a double bed. I loved weaving all those squares together for you. A rainbow of colours for a rainbow personality. That’s what I thought of as I wove the blanket for you.
Thank you for today, for unexpected time together and sweet moments in the sun. I will cherish and treasure whatever times we have together.
I love you my youngest son,