This is the first time Joe looked at me. (Just in case you're wondering, he is much cuter in color) Earlier this week, after coming home from an appointment with the doctor who delivered two of my three boys, I went on a frantic search for this photo. I was a bit of a mess when I got home because that day I had had a sonogram - the first sonogram I'd ever had where we weren't looking for something wonderful like baby heartbeats and baby spinal columns and baby fingers and toes. (ALERT: Earmuffs, Male Readers) I'd had some sort of odd "female issues" happening in the last month, so my doctor was mildly concerned and to be on the safe side, he wanted to check things out. The good news is that there was not anything very interesting to see in there. Perhaps a very, very minor thing, but nothing scary, nothing unmanageable and most certainly nothing wonderful. *sigh*
Looking at that screen, I knew for sure what was not in there this time. There was no baby, of course. Still as I looked at those black and white shadows while the technician drew lines measuring ovaries and fallopian tubes and whatnot, I have to admit that I imagined for a few minutes what it would be like if there had been some sort of wonderfully crazy and highly medically improbable story to tell when I called my husband later that day. What would it be like to see one more little fluttering flickering light? What would it be to know that there would be one more of us?
Don't be alarmed, I wasn't delusional. It's just that I needed to keep my mind occupied since they had told me that I had to have a full bladder for the procedure, so I lay there and imagined the impossible possibility that there could be something wonderful on that screen so that I wouldn't focus on how desperately I needed to pee and how ridiculously fast I had become a mother of a child with a GPA and daily mail from colleges flooding my mailbox.
I imagined that I was just like all the women who had sat next to me in the waiting room a few moments before. The one whose shirt stretched tight against her growing belly as she shifted in the chair trying to get comfortable. The one whose young husband sat nervously beside her, his hand on her knee while they filled out paper work. The one who leafed through a Parenting magazine as she used her foot to rock a newborn baby in her carrier.
I know, I know. For some reason I forgot about the hemorrhoids and the economy size bottle of Tums that sat next to my bed and the fact that every time my husband made me laugh I peed. (DUDES. I was pretty clear: Earmuffs!) I forgot about how I threw up every time I ate pizza and how I had to change from sleeping on my back to sleeping on my side. Who am I kidding? I forgot about the fact that there really was no sleep anyway.
But I also remembered how Husband and I would stay in bed on Saturday mornings watching Saved by the Bell and talk about names. He would say no to about 90% of them. If he liked one, he would try it out by putting on a mad father voice and yelling out "JOE CHARLES, GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW". When I suggested Kelly for a girl, he would sing the Kelly, Kelly Kelly Song that Woody sang on Cheers and I would picture a green-eyed girl with a blond ponytail and a daddy who would be wrapped around her perfect little finger. I remembered how I went to Whole Foods and bought whole wheat flour and all the other stuff they told me to buy in What to Expect When You're Expecting, but how I ended up at the Taco Bell drive-thru a couple times a week. I remembered that first sonogram and how we sat in my 1996 Honda Accord in wonder for awhile. I don't remember which one spoke first or much of what we said, but I do remember that although Husband was not the rallying activist type, he said he thought he might need to find a ProLife rally to march. Instead of that, I think we went to Taco Bell.
And then last night, that little grainy baby who I swear to goodness was in my belly five minutes ago and I went to the high school to listen to a panel of folks talk to us about College Admissions.
And I cried about it at least twice during the day leading up to it. I thought for a bit that maybe I'd changed my mind about the whole higher education nonsense. I loved my college experience, but I forgot about it for a good part of yesterday. I mean, were my parents completely INSANE? Who decided that 18 was a good age for that madness? Sure, there's learning and expanding your horizons and meeting new people, but College is not HERE in my HOME.
I got there a bit before Joe did and took my seat among other neglectful parents who were considering this colossally bad idea. For a few minutes when those college people started talking it took all I had not to stand up and shuffle past everyone in the auditorium shouting, "NEVER MIND, WE'VE JUST MADE A TERRIBLE MISTAKE IN COMING HERE. WE'RE GOING TO NEED TO JUST SCOOT BY REAL QUICK. MAKE WAY, PLEASE. WE'RE JUST GONNA STOP OFF FOR A HAPPY MEAL. IT'S JUST THAT WE'RE COLLECTING ALL THE MONSTERS, INC. TOYS, YA KNOW? WE HAVE LIKE THREE OF THE SULLY TOYS, IF ANYONE WANTS TO TRADE? WE NEED THE GUY WITH THE ONE EYE? WE'RE FEELING LUCKY TONIGHT, SO WE'LL JUST BE ON OUR WAY NOW. CARRY ON,"
Then Joe came in and sat next to me. He's gigantic now. And he's handsome. And he's funny. And he's sweet and smart and he loves Jesus. And sometimes he gets on my last nerve. And, OH MY WORD, I just love him so darn much.
And I almost laughed out loud because it is so ridiculous how soon I forget one incredibly important fact. God made my child who he is. God thinks he's all that I think he is and He knows what he will be later. God is not at all panicked about this boy's future. God does not feel like He's gonna puke. God loves that kid so darn much. Even more than I do. EVEN MORE.
It was only two days ago, that the intro speaker at my Bible study read the verse from Jeremiah:
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."
So, I tried really hard to focus and listen to the panel. I tried really hard to remember that the plans He has for my kid are His plans, not mine. And I tried to remember to talk to God about my fears and to trust God with whatever path this boy decides to take. And I tried to remember my friends who would gladly skip into that auditorium if only their children were still here to look toward a future.
Then I forced my hand to grip tight to my pen so that I wouldn't reach over like some crazy freak and hold my 16 year old boy's hand. And I took a deep breath and realized that even if I couldn't hold his hand, God would. Forever and ever. No matter what, He would not let him go.
"I will give them eternal life and they will never perish. And no one will snatch them out of my hand."