Up to my elbows in warm bubbly water, I let out a sigh as I loaded the dishwasher. Seems like the vicious cycle never ends.
I looked out the window hoping these dishes would miraculous disappear, when he walked in behind me, grabbed a piece of pizza and leaned against the counter as he took a bite.
“I wish Lydia was here.” The first words out of his mouth.
Ahhh. Gulp. I felt a sudden tugging in my heart. This came as a surprise as he hasn’t said much about her in a few months. Remaining quiet, I continued with the dishes and waited to see where this would go.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell his mind was deep in thought, chewing and thinking, remembering and wondering, as demonstrated by his calm yet serious demeanor.
“She should be here instead of me.” He continued on. Grabbing a piece of pizza, I leaned beside him, reaching my around his shoulders, seizing the moment.
“Oh honey no, you don’t mean that.” I took a deep breath and tried to fight back the tears, bit into the Hawaiian dish and wondered where this spontaneous empathetic comment elicited from.
We leaned on each other against counter, slowly munching on our pizza and continued our moving conversation.
“You know, God knew what was going to happen that day. He had a plan. He knew we were going to have an accident and knew the outcome. You are here because you were meant to be here. He knew you would be a fantastic big brother and these little brothers and sister you have now need you, and you need them. If it weren’t for Lydia, they wouldn’t be here. “
After I said it, it didn’t sound so attractive. But it was the truth. A bittersweet ending. She departed to heaven which opened the door for the three other siblings that came after her-none of which was in our plans.
“I wouldn’t trade any of you,” I said as I wiped my eyes, “and wish all of you could be here now together, but that just wasn’t how it was going to be. What a blessing that God gave you more siblings.”
“But I wish she was here. I really miss her, “he stated softly.
“I know, I do too,” I said as we shared a loving big bear hug amongst our sniffles.
God knew. He knows.
And there I was, having this adult filled conversation with my twelve-year-old in the kitchen. My son, who now stands as tall as me, will surpass me any minute. He was so big on the outside, yet so vulnerable on the inside.
As I looked at his innocent face, instantly I was reminded of that frightened little boy I cradled in the rocks and weeds on the shoulder of the highway nearly nine years ago while life as I knew it came to a painful end.
How did this happen? My thoughts raced trying to untangle the intricate web of what ifs.
My mind had no problem reminding me of how excruciating and horrific those early years were. Amazing how those memories lay just beneath the surface, waiting to be revealed again at a moment’s notice.
My son can be challenging at times like when complaining about his lack of technology or when he tests the boundaries of his emerging independence and entrance into his teens. However, I always remember that underneath his sometimes rough and abrasive exterior, is a little boy. A little boy who was robbed of a normal childhood and the stable and attentive parents he deserved.
A little boy whose heart remains as big as the ocean. A little boy who loves his family with all his soul, a little boy who has had to grow up long before his time.
They said he wouldn’t remember, however, to the surprise of many, there is nothing he can’t recall. From how his sister bossed him around, made him play dress up and wear make up, to every tiny detail about the accident. He remembers.
She was his, and he was hers.
Each day he grows more- intellectually, spiritually, and physically, touching my heart deeply. Yet emerging now, I see a strong young man who possesses amazing strength and perseverance, a young man who is courageous and beholds a heart of compassion and I couldn’t be more proud.
Through it all, I remain tremendously thankful because losing his sister has brought him closer to Jesus.
And with that, he knows that despite our sorrow, God will make beauty out of our pain and give us the hope and faith to be reunited with his sister and other loved ones someday. Yet for now, we treasure our memories and rest assured that Lydia will remain forever in all of our hearts.