Today is a day of reflection for me.
This day one year ago started out just like any other day. We were in the middle of a busy and wonderful season, with all three of our sons close to home.
By the end of the day, though, I was sending out urgent prayer requests. My middle son, Preston, had suffered a stroke.
Today marks a year since that desperately frightening time. As I reflect on the year that has passed, my head spins. In just the past few months, so many things have happened.
Preston graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and started working full-time (and he continues to do well, thank God!).
Lee, my youngest son, graduated from high school and is now in college at High Point University.
And Will, my oldest son, is in Newport, Rhode Island, in U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School. I thank God that some photos of Will's class were posted on the Officer Training Command's official Facebook page. I'm pretty sure I can see my son in the group of candidates getting worked out by their Drill Instructors.
Dear God, what a whirlwind.
In the midst of all of that, my husband and I have become empty-nesters.
And I'm reminded of this photo I took awhile ago:
What looks like a mess is a nest. An empty nest. A tiny bird (a wren, I think) found the top of one of our front porch columns to be inviting and comforting. And so she chose it as a place to have her babies, to raise her family.
I like to use birds' nests in my decorating. And that little wren had no use for her nest any more--her little ones had long since flown away. So why couldn't I take that nest down and put it in an arrangement or under a cloche or something?
I couldn't do it. I just couldn't bring myself to disturb that empty nest.
Perhaps it's because, deep in my heart, I wanted those baby birds to come back and perch there for just a bit. I knew, of course, that they couldn't live in the old nest. It was built to be a safe space for them when they were tiny and helpless. The nest didn't fit them any more. I knew this.
And I was glad for those birds to be grown up and free and able to fly. I was happy for them. I felt proud of their little mama.
Still, I couldn't take down that nest.
Just like that mama bird, I tried very hard to build a cozy place for my little ones to grow. But, of course, there was no way for me to protect my children from all harm. Try as I might to keep them healthy and whole, I couldn't control their lives. I couldn't control the circumstances they had to face. I never did have any control.
I remind myself of this truth as I think about my children, praying for their safety and well-being, missing them.
I realize now why I couldn't bring myself to take down that nest. Every once in a while, I wanted those grown-up babies to fly home.
And the nest would be there, waiting.