“I just feel like any minute, this could all just fall apart,” he said.
His chin was quivering in a way that strangely reminded me of a newborn baby’s chin and tears welled up in his eyes. It had been a good 20 minutes since we started talking, and I had been working hard during that time to peel away the layers to reach that confession. Finally, I had figured out the key to his sadness that particular day.
We had been having a great week. I was so pleased by all the progress that James (and all of us) had made. But that day, he was sad, and I could tell. It seemed as if he woke up with a dark rain cloud over his head. I let it go for some time, hoping that the events of the day would help the rain cloud to lift, but when I realized that it wasn’t going to happen, I headed back to his room where I found him lying on his bed.
After several surface complaints which in usual fashion, went something like, “I wish we could move” “I wish we lived in _________” “I wish I had __________”, I finally hit the chord. The one that caused him to share his deepest fear with me. I guess he realized that I wasn’t going to leave until he told me what he was thinking. And the words he uttered broke my heart.
“I just feel like any minute, this could all just fall apart.” When I asked him what he meant, he went on, “Any time, everything could change. It could be different so quick.”
His reality hit me really hard. I suddenly understood that everything in his life has changed in an instant. Little, if any warning, no time to prepare…just seemingly in the blink of an eye, everything is different.
I felt his pain so deeply. So I did all I knew to do. I held him tightly, and we talked about the future. Once again, I assured him that we aren’t going anywhere. We are in it for the long haul. We talked and chatted about his favorite thing….that one day, I’m going to be Nana to HIS children. And I talked about everything that I plan to do to spoil his kids…large Sonic milkshakes and candy slushes and all the things that I never let my own kids have. Oh yes, I’ll be that grandmother. And I’ll love every minutes of it. After all, I’m rather looking forward to getting gray hair.
“Mom, when you are a Nana, I want you to be exactly like OUR Nana. Like, EXACTLY, ” he said with conviction. “I can probably do that,” I told him.
I talked about how he’ll leave one day to start a career and have a family, but I told him that he’d better come home often, or I will have to come find him and bring him home myself. “Don’t make me do that!” I teased him.
We talk about how when everyone is grown, they will all come home for Christmas and bring their children, and our house will be busting at the seams with love. We’ll talk about what it might be like when everyone is grown. This always seems to bring a big grin and an assurance that we’re going to be okay… that maybe, just maybe this will work out after all. Talking about the future seems to give him just enough hope to take another step forward.
It’s amazing to think about what so many children go through in life. It’s amazing to think that this sweet boy lives with the idea and the fear that any minute, his life could fall apart…again. It’s not fair. And yet, I have to believe, I have to hold on to hope that all this…all these things he’s experienced in his eight short years have been for a purpose, part of a greater plan, part of God giving him a “future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11) much like God’s plan for Joseph. Oh how I pray that God will give him a “Joseph story”.
Of course, in the meantime, while we’re waiting to see how his story unfolds…you’ll find us dreaming about our future…together.
Do you know a child who would benefit from having a grown-up dream about their future with them? Our kids need us to dream with them. They need us to explore possibilities with them. And even if you can’t promise to be IN their future….you can give them a gift by helping them dream of one.