Life’s Tilting Axis

Life respects no boundaries created by unfortunate circumstances.  It just goes barreling on regardless of what you are dealing with.  The reality is, it’s not just about you.  Even when you wish it were.  Even when you are justified that it should be.  Life is funny that way.

The very day I arrived home from the hospital, almost as soon as I was settled into my room, the phone rang.  It was the police.  They had our son down by the retention pond with cans of spray paint and fresh graffiti on a retaining wall.  I sat stunned while my husband went to retrieve him.  Why today… of all days?  Welcome home, I thought.  It really didn’t matter that I was exhausted, bruised, and broken from my hospital stay, a conversation was necessary.  So a conversation would be had.  You can’t just stop the world and get off.  Life demands what it demands.  Buck up and take it like a mom.

I already knew what the graffiti would look like.  Some composition of ” R.I.P.”, a single eye crying, a lone cypress tree standing strong yet contorted by the elements, a poetic rap surrounded by rain.  It had been his running visual dialog for the last month, ever since a friend of his had died in his sleep from an undiagnosed heart condition.  In fact, that very day they were supposed to swap back the shoes they had recently borrowed from one another.  It was sudden, it was horrifying, it was real, and it was finite.  It was not something anyone can make sense of, especially not a teenager, and especially not my son, the thinker.  And on top of that, now there was my cancer.  If actions reveal the condition of the heart, our son’s graffiti revealed a heart deeply troubled.  His world had been shaken to the core, and was spinning on an axis of unanswered questions.

Our conversation started with sad eyes and deep sighs.  Tell us about the graffiti. Tell us about your feelings.  Let’s talk about other choices.  Let’s talk about your friend, let’s talk about my illness.  Let us tell you how we see you, the young man that you really are.  Let us tell you how God sees you, the young man that you can be.  Let’s talk about Him.  We must remember how much He loves us, remember what He desires for us, and remember how much we must trust Him.  Really trust Him.  Even when things don’t make sense.

It was one of those rare moments when everything that is pent up comes rushing out wordlessly.  Fears and worry, doubts and frustration, truth and love expressed in trembling hugs and silent cries.  When parent and child meet on common ground each holding broken pieces of themselves in their hands, and look straight into each other with tears in their eyes and yet see everything clearly.  When hearts connect through shared pain, and honesty becomes the gateway to understanding, at a time when there is little understanding of life.  Nothing was as important as that moment, and it was critical for our beginning to cope.

Later that night I realized that what I thought was a cruelly timed problem was really a gift for each one of us.  For had it not been for the circumstances, we would have never had the conversation.  A conversation through which we gathered our brokenness, laid them out before the Lord, and simply said; this is who we are, remind us of who You are.  One through which our heartaches were heard, and our hands were guided to piece our fragile world back together, gently reset it on it’s axis, and get back on.



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