Scribbles on a paper, torn and tattered on the edges from the trip home. “It’s a rollercoaster,” he exclaimed as he showed it off when I arrived to pick him up from daycare.
Now it sits on my kitchen table.
It stares me in the face as I prepare for the task of the day: to walk a young man through the valley of the shadow of death.
I imagine my way through the moments ahead. I will make my way downtown. Parking in the concrete towers, I will wait until he arrives. I will introduce myself to the adults assigned by the state to care for him since Life has dealt him a hard hand to play.
He will walk the steps in the sterile, quiet halls. Pulling back the glass doors, he will face his grandfather, the man who has raised him, as he lies in a hospital bed hooked up to monitors. The words (hemorrhage, irreversible damage, stroke) all describe his condition. But they are just words. When he walks in, it will be the sights and sounds and emotions that will tell the story.
It’s a rollercoaster, this life. This whirlwind of love and loss. This mess of flesh and bone and spirit.
In a day following in the footsteps of Love-Made-Flesh, I choose to get on the ride.
I choose because some don’t have a choice. I choose because one day I will not have the choice. I choose because those I love, those God loves, those that have been entrusted to my care have tickets for the rollercoaster.
I will reach out my hand to touch his arm so that he knows that I’m by his side. And then we will hold on tight. As the ride leads us up slowly and then plummets us down into the abyss, I hope he’s willing to hold on. I hope that I am, too.
So that when it comes to an end, we may look at one another and recognize the miracle – that the pain and loss of this Life is nothing compared to the power that holds us together. Though changed and grieved, we are still here. Love has kept us together. We are alive and ready to ride again as the sun rises on another day.