My Beautiful Evan,
I woke up this morning with butterflies in my stomach – I assumed it was just more of the same general anxiety I’ve been feeling over the past week. But my unconscious mind, always a step ahead, knew better and it was just the beginning of a very tough morning.
I texted you and pulled the mom card – “let’s sit together – #seniorsunday. I know you weren’t thrilled but what could you argue…because sometimes you are sweet like that. I can’t even remember what the first song was but when I opened my mouth to sing, tears sprung to my eyes, my throat locked up, and I suddenly realized what was going on with those butterflies – this was it – the last of your childhood in these pews. I shut my mouth and I tried to keep the tears (unsuccessfully) at bay until the opening worship was finished and we could sit down so I could catch my breath. I leaned over and whispered “this is a tough day for me” and you answered “why?” – I couldn’t answer. It was done – the tears were free flowing.
We started attending COTHA when you were 2 years old – that’s 16 years of Sundays – that’s approximately 832 Sundays, 16 years of family ministry starting with the nursery and cumulating in youth group. It’s dozens and dozens of fun days, vbs weeks, moving up parties, lock-ins, and mission trips. It’s 16 years of our history together in this place.
I’m sure at this point of the service you’re like “what the heck mom”…and I’m so sorry I’m falling apart. I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world was wrong. I don’t think anything was wrong per se. Tears aren’t reserved for pain or despair. Nostaglia, memories, remembering is sometimes intense and often tears are simply a release value.
The earliest years were the sweetest. You loved to be held when we sang songs. You tore into the activity bags. You were surprised once when the reading was from James – you looked at dad with wonder and said “Jjaaammmeeesss?!?” I remember your baptism, your participation in our wedding renewal, and mostly laying your head on my shoulder during the last song, ready for your afternoon nap.
And then you grew into your elementary self. Finally, at last, you were big enough for Kids of the King children’s church. I loved watching you run out with the other kids. You’d come back full of energy and couldn’t really sit still the rest of the service. Our summers were filled with VBS fun, office antics, and spirit quest fun days. The time we chased you around and sprayed you with silly string. The best.
And then suddenly, or so it seemed, you were your junior high self and then shortly after, your senior high self . The lock-ins, the mission trips, new Sunday school lessons, time at LOTS, weekends in the piney woods of Camp Allen, Sunday night dodgeball against you and Trevor…some of my best mom memories. But that’s where nostalgia can be a little bit of a storyteller. These are also the years where you started to question your faith and start pushing back on church attendance. Your body was in church but your mind was elsewhere. These are the years where my prayers for you intensified and I understood powerlessness at a new uncomfortable level. My own faith grew as yours wavered.
Today, your childhood time in the COTHA pews is finished. I can promise you this – I made every effort to count and enjoy every moment. I can’t remember the exact Sunday I last held you during the last song, or the last workday you spent running the church, or the last song we sang together on a Wednesday night but I do REMEMBER and I do KNOW that these years are and will be some of my very favorites. I LOVE being your mom – we have LIVED OUT LOUD together and I will always be grateful for this chapter we shared in this place together.
And now we’re into our new chapter – the blank pages are laid out before us. My heart wants to be fearful but FEAR is a LIAR and I want to be brave… and with that, I want to leave you with this thought…the only thing I know for sure TODAY is that God loves you infinitely more that I ever can…which must be a whole lot since I know how much you are loved by me.
I love you beautiful – mom