My youngest son was about three years old when he discovered his purpose. I remember him telling me that he wanted to be a Marine when he grew up. As a mother of sons, I was not thrilled with this, but I wanted to know why. At that time, he simply said, “I wanna help people.”
Now, I knew that he really liked guns. He loved hunting and spending time with his father and uncles. He was a nature boy. At first, I was so anti-gun that I refused to let my children have even toy guns and was amazed when one day I saw that he had made one from his leggo set. I resigned that maybe this had something to do with who he was called to be. Being a mother of boys was difficult for me because I was such a girl–not girly but a girl through and through.
My first marriage hit a rough patch and when it was “over” I found out that I was pregnant, so I stayed a little longer. Not only was I pregnant, I was having a little girl. It only seemed right. I had always been the aunt who had done all of the hair and nails of all of the nieces. I was way too interested in makeup, high heels, and the latest hair-style trends.
Now don’t get me wrong, I made this fit with my life as a boy mom, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want a daughter. So when the ultrasound confirmed what my heart knew, I was beyond elated. Month after month I swelled both physically and emotionally with the anticipation of finally being able to share my secrets with a daughter. She would be the evidence that God had favored me and maybe the acceptance that I had never gotten as a child would be imparted to her and she would be my redemption.
Then, when I was seven months pregnant, at a regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment, I found out that my baby girl—my daughter was sick and that I would have to have her the next morning. Every time that I got a chance, I wheeled myself into ICU and read to my baby from the book of Genesis. When I did, her little legs began jumping and she began defying all odds.
On the second day, she died.
When I got home from the hospital, my baby boy came running into the house and immediately began looking for his “babysitter” (he couldn’t say baby sister). I had to look into his big almond shaped eyes and tell him that his sister went back home to heaven. He looked at me, put his head down, and simply asked, “Can I go outside and play?” Of course I felt so horrible. I felt like I had let him down. He really wanted his little sister. He would save all of the toys from his fast food meals for her in a special place that he made just for her. He practiced loving her with this little cabbage patch doll. Now, he had no sister.
About a week later, my friend who owned the funeral home told me that my daughter’s ashes were ready to pick up. So, I picked up my baby girl who now rested in a box—not in a bassinet.
None of us were ever the same.
Fast forward twelve years and my baby boy was just about to graduate from high school. I had to have “the talk” with him. “What are you going to do?” Now, I have asked him this several times over the years and he always responds, “I am going to be a Marine.”
He graduated in May and was scheduled to leave in November. I had to ask him one more time. “Son, are you sure?” This time he revealed his heart, “Lady (he always calls me lady), I am a Black man in America and every day I see men that look like me dying in the streets for nothing. I will die whether it is by someone’s hands or naturally in my bed. I would prefer to know that if I gotta die, that I do it protecting people.”
To that, I had to let it go and support him. When he left, I cried but it was more because he was leaving in purpose. Five months later, I got a call that no one wants to get. My son was coming home. He had been permanently disabled serving this country. When he came home, I would look into his room and oft times he would be curled up—almost like a baby, in the corner of his bed, so much so, that it resembled a bassinet. My baby was hurt and I couldn’t fix it. That helplessness that I felt when I had to tell him that his sister had died came rushing back and I was wounded.
For months, he pretty much stayed in his room and then one day, he came out. When he came out, he was not fixed but he was whole. He was in pain but he knew that his words were going to create his tomorrow, so he chose them wisely. He suffered, not in silence but in the process. Every once in a while I would hear worship music (amongst other kinds) seeping from under his door. Every once in a while, I would hear a sermon flowing from the speakers as my son showered. More and more my son’s countenance was being restored.
Most mothers can attest to how hard it is to see their children hurting. My heart had been pricked and prodded and was left sensitive and sore. I wanted God to explain how he could have allowed this to happen to my baby, but I never got an answer.
Yesterday, my baby boy turned 21. Twenty-one! I was so overjoyed! I have watched him go through so much and come out of so much. So today as I was in prayer and thanking God for all of his blessings, I realized that there was one thing that I had never thanked God for: that my son did not come home in a box. He may have come home a little battered, bruised, a bit broken but he came home. His story is not over, it is just beginning.
My challenge to you: Remember that God knows the plans that he has for us. As the sun shines and as the rain falls on the good and the bad we can not get caught up on the things of yesterday. We must always allow God the room to continue the work that He started in us, trusting that, in the end, His purpose for His plan will be the place where God’s goodness will be revealed.