“God gave me a little sapling. I nurtured him into a young tree and sent him back to Him.”
Such a beautiful expression of faith, such strength of conviction. She had lost her 22 year old son in a road accident, and she was saying it with a smile. To even offer her condolence felt like an insult to her mettle. The loss of a child is the greatest fear of every mother, something I dare not even attempt to imagine. So I held her close, one mother offering fortitude to another, hopefully imbibing a tiny fraction of her grace and dignity in return.
This happened just this morning. I read today’s word prompt and the memory came rushing back. Death is still a very raw subject with me, so even though I have been staring at my page for quite a while now, I have no more words to share, just a prayer…
God bless and keep all the saplings and young trees safe, may they grow tall and strong, may they go on to shelter and nurture, and may they all outlive their greenskeepers.
I watch as they get closer and closer, too engrossed in their animated discussion to even notice me. There’s a shuffling of papers from one hand to another, heads shaking, hands gesticulating. I get into the car and start the engine, turn on the air conditioner and wait. And wait. The longer the discussions continue, the sterner the faces become. Eyes are crinkled, brows are raised, jaws are clenched, and teeth are ground together. I watch them get older with every passing second. I lament the unnecessary passing away of youth. Eventually the crowd starts breaking up into smaller groups and they drift apart. The car door opens and three stiff bodies slide in. I subtly survey them, taking in the chilly silence. It’s the lull before the storm and I am too terrified to even create a ripple. I start driving in equal silence. The atmosphere in the car gets more and more stifling, until I feel like I won’t be able to breathe any more. I eventually summon up some courage and squeak out – “So how was it?”
“Hah! Guess who is going to be failing Chemistry”, he spits out.
“Almost the entire class, INCLUDING ME.”
My heart thumps so loudly that it thunders in my ears, as my blood flows with the fury of a tempest. My palms sweat as my body gets hotter and hotter. What have I gotten myself into? An overpowering fear of impending doom makes my muscles tense up. The oxygen is depleted from my lungs and I can breath no more. A jolt and my life flashes before my eyes. And then I’m falling and falling, racing towards imminent death. My stomach has dropped off, my intestines are floating freely about and everything that was inside is about to hurl out. I try to call for help but nothing comes out. It’s too hard to inhale. Somewhere in the distance I hear my son scream my name. My baby needs me. I want to rush to him. I try to get away, but I am trapped. Restraints hold me firmly back, while someone is pulls down on my cheeks, stretching them. My own nails bite into my flesh as I clench my hands so tightly that the blood stops its flow. And then just as suddenly… the silence of the grave.
The shackles disappear. “Out”, I vaguely hear someone say. “Out”. I want to get away before he changes his mind, but my body simply won’t respond. I am weightless and numb. By sheer will I force my feet to move one by one, away from this narrow escape.
Suddenly a little body wrap itself tightly around me. “Mum…O mum”. I will my heart to slow down, my jitters to stop, and my lids to lift. I find myself looking into a pair of the most clear brown twinkling eyes.
“I love you. You are the best”, he says. I hug him back. My beautiful boy.
I smile and acknowledge to myself – I’ll ride that crazy roller coaster a hundred times, just to see that Twinkle in his eyes.