As we finally rounded the corner onto our street, the yearning and anticipation I’d felt for the last ten days couldn’t be contained for one second longer. In our driveway, I left everything in the car and ran through the deep snow to the front door and flung it open.
My little boy had been snuggling next to my sister-in-law on the couch but when he saw me kneeling down with my arms open wide, he ran into my embrace and I fell back onto the floor with him, laughing and crying all at once. The joy I felt at that moment was indescribable.
I had been away on vacation, an all-girls cruise with Craig’s mom and sisters and our niece over New Years Eve in celebration of her college graduation. I was honored and thrilled to go but missed my boys terribly throughout the trip. After six days at sea, we returned to find that a record breaking blizzard had caused most of the airports in the north and across the midwest to be shut down.
Many, many flights canceled and then later rescheduled, but I discovered then that it would be another FOUR days before I had any chance of getting a flight home. My heart ached for my kids and there was not a thing I could do but wait. My husband, who had taken off work and had been home with our two during my time away urged me to rent a car and drive, but ice storms across the south and along my would-be route prevented me from doing so.
Finally the day came and I white-knuckled and prayed throughout a bumpy, frigid evening flight into Minnesota to connect to Chicago. I cried when I saw my love at the airport and the drive home with him late at night felt like forever. I couldn’t wait to hug my precious little ones.
After squeezing my five year old and saying goodbye to my sister-in-law, I tucked Brett back into bed and went in to see one year old Collin. He was sleeping in his crib but stood up when he heard me walk into his room. He cried out and reached his arms to me. I held him tight, rocked him and said, “Mommy no more bye-bye.” Tears of joy returned again as I held my baby boy.
I learned back then that it’s really a gift to have the opportunity, for short periods of time, to miss my children. In the missing and yearning, God makes it crystal clear what an enormous blessing they are.
That cruise was almost twenty years ago and I still remember feeling, at the time, like I was given a “second chance” with my babies. I was such a fearful flyer then, that I truly felt like I escaped death every time I took a flight. It was traumatic to say the least for me to push through my despair and get on an airplane, imagining each time that my life was going to end.
Returning home from any plane trip made me feel like God had given me a do over. And it made me feel euphoric that I still had more time with my boys and they with me.
I’m like many parents in that sometimes the terror and trepidation of the thought of losing one of my children, or they losing me, will keep me awake at night. Watching the news or certain movies and tv shows just fuels those fears.
There were situations before and after that trip, throughout the years of raising our three kids, that we did have a near miss and were spared from disaster. Like the time Brett, at three years old, got separated from me at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa and for about twenty minutes the world around me moved in slow motion. Until he was found, I envisioned his picture being on the front page of the next day’s newspaper.
Or the time we were vacationing with our friends and their kids in northern Wisconsin. The children were in the shallow part of the lake playing on individual rafts, but Collin (who was about nine at the time) kept losing air in his. He would bring it back to me every so often, I would blow it up again and back into the water he’d go.
The adults got distracted talking and didn’t notice the dark clouds rolling in until we felt the wind suddenly whipping around us, and then realized that the gusts had taken the kids way too far out, almost to the middle of the lake. I tried to press down the absolute panic I felt as I saw the storm coming and was screaming for them to paddle to shore, but they were oblivious because of the distance and the sound. I knew there was only a short amount of time for them to kick back through the now significant waves before Collin’s raft would have no air left to help him through the choppy water.
Or in the first few weeks after we brought Marina home from Russia, she would have something called “breath holding spells.” If she fell or was upset, she would cry so hard that eventually there would be no sound, and it appeared like her mouth was stuck wide open. She wasn’t able to catch her breath, so her face and lips would turn purple and at fifteen months old, she’d faint.
The first time it occurred, I held her and ran through the kitchen trying to shake her into breathing. Brett was running along right next to me yelling, “Mom, Mom, Mom” and had the phone in his hands, ready to call 911. As soon as she passed out though, her face turned her normal color and she opened her eyes as if nothing had happened.
Marina had one breath holding spell every single day for two weeks straight and then, thank God and really by a miracle, they completely stopped.
The relief and gratitude we feel when we scoop our kids up after something catastrophic is averted is the same way, I believe, that Jesus feels when His children come home to Him. When we leave this place and are in His presence forever.
And I think it’s also a preview to the feeling that we, as HIS precious little ones, are going to have when we get to see Him face to face. Not just relief and gratitude, but love and safety and warmth and peace and joy and elation. No more phobias. No more worry or anxiety or catastrophe, real or imagined.
It’s the feeling that we and He will have, when we finally round the corner and take the last turn home. Jesus with His arms open wide, laughing and overcome, pulling us in like we’ve been there all along, like we were never gone.
Revelation 21:4 “He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.”