His laundry hamper leaned heavily upon the passenger seat stuffed with folded clothes that I had washed for him the night before. His backseat was equally filled with a worn cardboard box of groceries, two cowboy hats, one laptop and myself, who had squeezed my way in for a little extra time with my son before he left to go back to college that evening.
We were headed to see a movie. The rest of our family was meeting us at the theater. After the show, I was to ride home with them while our son was to begin his long drive back to school.
My short drive alone with him proved to be time well spent.
I listened as he spoke of music he liked, classes that challenged him, and ideas that made him question the world’s views. I don’t know if it was because I was in the backseat that he was so talkative or if it was because he knew our time was ending that words came to him with a comfortable ease. Either way, I would see him occasionally glance in the rearview mirror to see if my attention was still upon him. My attention was definitely still upon him.
“I was thinking, you know, this was the first time back that I really felt like a visitor. Maybe when I come back over the summer and I’m staying longer, I’ll feel different. But this time, it was like I was not living at home any longer. Does that make sense?” he asked as he looked in the rearview mirror.
My heart skipped. Yes, it made perfect sense. “Hmm, I think I understand. You have tipped into a new life stage. I remember being there at your age. However, I recently visited my mom in a home that I never lived in. I stayed in her guest bedroom full of trinkets which held for me no emotional attachment. Yet, I slept so well. I felt so loved. I felt at home. Why? Because I knew my mom was in the next room. I was home. For me, a piece of home is wherever Mom is. Even at my age,” I chuckled. “Hard to explain.” Tears welled in my eyes without my permission. The realization of what I just said came to me as I was surrounded by things that would soon be arranged in a new space — a new home for my son.
I caught him stealing a glance. Silence hung on the words we didn’t speak. “You know, I was thinking that I really only have two years left.”
“What do you mean, two years?” I asked.
“Two years of living with my family before one of us dies.”
“Well, the way I see it, I’ll be home for holidays and a few more summers while I’m still in college. If things go their natural course, I’ll get married and be around for visits, spending the night less and less. In total, that’s probably two years. I have been with you for 18 years, but we probably only have two years left of actual time together, if that.”
Two years. The reality of his words went through my mind like birthday candles blown out much too fast: so good and so quick. I was thankful to be in the backseat so he couldn’t see my tears escaping. What made my son think upon such thoughts? If we all thought this way, would we embrace time differently? Would we embrace one another differently? God, I love this boy… this young man… this gift.
“I’m so thankful for our loving relationship. We have been very blessed.” These are all the words I could speak.
His eyes met mine in the rearview mirror. I could see the wet glisten in them. He knew all the struggles and all the joys. He lived them with me over his last 18 years. “I have had a very good childhood. Even now. A very good life. God has blessed us. You’re right, Mom.”
Home. What a word. Home was right there in the backseat of a crammed packed sedan, ready to head back to college. Home was right there in a guestroom of an unfamiliar house that housed my dear mother. And home is anywhere we recognize the Lord’s presence in this temporary world (through the Holy Spirit, through another’s faith, through the Word, etc.). Most importantly, home is the place we look forward to the most: A glorious loving relationship, without blemish, without struggle, without pain. This home is a place of unconditional love, joy, and time well spent with our Savior.
Yes, my child, even now. God has blessed us. We have hope. We have love. No matter the number of our earthly days, we have an eternal home because we have Christ Jesus.
“That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17).
SGLY, dear readers.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian writer and an opinion columnist. To submit feedback on SGLY or to offer a specific topic idea, please contact Chartier at news@ amtrib. com. Follow Chartier on Face - book: facebook. com/ tiffanychartier and Twitter: @tiffany chartier