Monday, June 4, 2012

please close the door...

"There is always a moment in childhood
when the door opens
and lets the future in."
~ Graham Green

The boxes are scattered throughout the dining room and into the reading corner.  Numbered 1 through 6. Taped and ready for the address labels and shipping.  They leave tomorrow, but I will have her a few more weeks.  Until August 1.  I will blink and it will be here.

"Oh, Mom," she laughs. "I'll be home for Christmas.  Only four and a half months.  It will pass before we know it!"

"Oh, I know." I'm bright. Positive. Filled with loving support and continual encouragement. The wind beneath her wings! I feel a piece of my heart break off...

10,000 miles. Ridiculous! What kind of mother lets her young push off from the nest to go live in a city of 17 million people over 10,000 miles away? I didn't anticipate this day on the April Sunday when she was five years old and her quivering lips told me she needed to be baptized that night because, "I really want to go to heaven, Mom, and I know I have to be baptized to get there."

"Do you think we will be able to fit the storage shelving unit in, Mom?  I really need that for the closet."  Without thinking, I look and measure and mumble something about no, it won't, surely there will be some sort of shelving system that can be bought there...

It's dangerous there.  She is so absent-minded and unaware of the dark side.  This day never even crossed my mind years before when we talked almost all night about the trip God had taken her on in prayer--the night I told her to always listen to the Voice and to always say "Yes..."

A 16-year-old girl who knows God has called her to a life set apart is challenged by so many things.  Normal friendship advice and relationship advice and future college advice and "How to Plan My Life" advice just won't work in the lives of chosen vessels.  Hands joined with her father's, we prayed and carefully navigated the questions and turns and large boulders in the path.  I was beginning to understand that there was not a book available to me on how to mother a daughter who dreams dreams.  My smile stayed bright as I encouraged and pushed and applauded.  My heart turned its head when she wanted to talk about "What if?" I closed the door.  The day may come, but it wasn't now.  No need to borrow time from tomorrow.

An epiphany occurred in my mind the other day.  Out of the blue, I realized that I am now the same age my mother was when I married.  I stopped peeling the potatoes and turned, startled, to see if anyone was there to feel my terror.

The room whirled as the images of my entire life hurtled past, not stopping to chat or to rest there, just to remind me that while I had been cooking and washing and reading and writing and traveling and cleaning out the closet and making the meal plan for Thanksgiving and ordering homeschool curriculum and holding my head in my hands in exasperation over the to-do list, the years had silently filed out the door, one by one.  They left and didn't even say good-by.

And I watch through the same kitchen window my mother watched through as a piece of my heart pulls into the driveway in the silver SUV and I hear the door slam as she calls out, already halfway up the stairs, "I'm only home for a minute."

For a minute, for a minute, for a minute...

The wind captures the ripples of her laughter as they drift back toward my place at the sink and sets them ever so softly in my heart with the whisper, "Don't forget the sound of this..."

Jim Croce sang his heart out on the night of September 20, 1973 in the gym of the small-town college from which I would graduate seven years later.  He walked out of the back door into the waiting car that drove him 10 minutes to the airport.  The pecan trees on the edge of the landing strip snagged the wheels and after only having lived 30 years, Jim was just a memory.

His two-year-old son waited at home for the daddy that didn't come and today says he doesn't remember him.  But he remembers his legacy and feels the love because of the song his dad wrote about him that still plays in his mind, his house, and occasionally on the radio.  "If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I'd like to do, is save every day 'til eternity passes away just to spend them with you..."

Twenty-two years.  I have had her with me longer than many.  But there is still so much I need to say.  So much I haven't had a chance to tell her yet.  About how if you let boiled potatoes sit in water too long they get slimy and how to fold a fitted sheet so small that it can fit in a shoebox and how if you put Clorox 2 in your towels in keeps them brighter and adds another few years to their know, stuff that she may need to know on the mission field.  10,000 miles away.  Alone.

Who will hear her if she gets sick in the night?  Who will be there to make sure she takes her medicine properly every day?  Who will be there to help her kill the inevitable creatures that will make their way in from the outside?  Who will hug her tight when the whole world is crying hazy, humid, Filipino tears and they are dripping down her face?

I glance at the empty spot beside my pillow where she lay the night we brought her home from the hospital.  Two days old.  A six-pound, four-ounce bundle of limitless childhood whose days went far past where my eyes could see.

Please, somebody.  Please close the door.  

© 2009-2012 by Melani Brady Shock


  1. No words...just heartfelt emotion shared with you. *hugs*

  2. I've never seen it written better and more poignantly. A mother's heart is so full of contradictions. On the one hand I long to see my child or children traveling 10,000 miles away to minister and be used in God's purpose. And on the realistic side, I say the same, close the door ...

    And yet our children must have and understand that "whole heart, soul, mind, strength .. and neighbor" thing, and for that, the door has to be open.

  3. She told me few days ago (when I confessed how I hated to see her go..), age said, "Vani, I'm coming back.. God told me I was coming back and this (POA) is where I'll be..". With a grimace I said: I know, but I hate it anyway. She said, "Vani. For years, you've encouraged me to go through those double doors and fulfill my dream. And now you hate that I'm leaving.." "Dont remind me..." I said before I hugged my beautiful dreamer... We will all miss her terribly. But not half as much as you mbs... Your words made me cry and smile at the same time...

  4. My love keeps my door open for my beauties who will never return to my nest. Your chick has your nest that she longs to return to.

    For now.

    I had mine for only 22 and 19 years respectively. I rejoice in the women they've become. Lovers of God, keepers of the flame.

  5. Whether they are leaving for the mission field, getting married, going away to college, the end result is the same, a little emptiness that will stay until they return. Last minute questions; rethinking decisions. I remember on my daughter's wedding day, telling her, you know, you don't have to do this if you have any doubt. You need to be sure. Locking myself in the bathroom after the ceremony and crying in the shower.

    We raise them to fly away, but we never want to push them out of the nest. As a mother, letting go of our children is always hard, even if it's the first time they ride the bus to school or the first time they spend the night away from home. It is never easy.

    But then as they grow and become mothers, you get the cards that have no coined phrases, just miles of handwritten memories.

    (Excerpt from a mother's day card from my daughter)
    "Now, that I'm a mother I understand what kind of challenges you face in this position and I have so much love and respect for you and the way you make being a mom seem effortless."