The perfect Church girl. That would be your description of me if you lived in my neighborhood. But that narrative would change a few months to my wedding date. It would change because I got pregnant. But that pregnancy changed my life in more ways than I can tell in one short story. This is not about me. It’s about the one thing I saw in my child as he grew, one thing you should see too. It started the day i thought he was kidnapped.
“Mary that your insane son has done it again”. It was grandma Joanne. That was how we referred to my oldest living aunt. I knew what she meant, I had heard it a thousand times from different people. They reported him to me in the same tone of voice with which they looked at me when I had conceived him outside wedlock. Hope leaped in my heart the moment she said those words. It didn’t matter at that moment whatever names she chose to call him, that she had seen him do something she considered terrible meant he wasn’t missing.
Where is he? My question hung in the air. She had already passed, mumbling words probably about my son. I had spent the last three days searching for him in a crowd so thick it was difficult to differentiate faces. ‘Don’t do this to me’ I had mumbled these words under my breath more times than I can recall. Then I would weep silently and pray and tag along his father who was leading the search.
His father- this man who had forgiven and accepted me without asking questions. And now I saw the same fear in my heart clearly visible in his eyes and his stride conveyed the weight of his deep concern. He loved this child like his own! He had also heard grandma Joanne’s words for he was now leading the way in the direction she had approached us from. Then someone mentioned to us that some men were holding him down.
We picked our pace, squeezing through the ocean of bodies.
‘I will spank him!’ ‘But what if he’s in danger?’. My thoughts swung like a pendulum bulb from fearful anger to fickle hope. Hope that he was fine and that he had a good reason for disappearing on us and almost causing me a heart attack. But what reason could a twelve-year old have?
The minute we stepped into the Church auditorium I saw him. He was sitting with his back against the entrance, gesturing like an experienced teacher who was giving an interesting lecture on a topic he was really passionate about. The issue here was he was speaking to the Bishop and senior pastors.
This is what grandma Joan had meant. My son had probably interrupted their meeting. I wondered what he had to say; over the years, I had seen him display a level of wisdom too grand for his years. But what could this child have to say to our age long leaders? Fear gripped my heart.
He turned and our eyes met. He smiled at me, his eyes so full of joy it was almost tangible. Then I saw something strange. The eyes of those religious leaders, they were full of something too; respect, awe, admiration. I couldn’t place which one.
“We searched for you everywhere!!! Why did you do this to us?” I asked both questions in quick succession, my tone perfectly conveying my exasperation. His eyes, still beaming with unusual joy, he replied “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”.
At this point, I was forced to believe what grandma Joanne had said, how could he refer to this place as his father’s house? He was becoming even more strange! And the way he looked at me, like you would a child who was too young to understand something quite simple. I knew he was special and as we walked back home, I couldn’t shake off the kindness with which he treated me when I didn’t understand the things he said.
In the years that followed, he obeyed me without questions, served his father with a unique kind of humility and as I observed his growth in wisdom, as the years opened my eyes to the truth about who this my child was, my heart soared in gratitude for the compassion with which he treated me as his mother.
He validated my human feelings, granted me permission not to understand it all. Even in his last minutes on earth, amidst his agony, he saw my pain and paused and provided me a son of comfort.
From birth to death, my son was wrapped in compassion.
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I love you for reading.