My sister and I were plotting our day at my kitchen table when the phone rang and a rush of words tumbled in my ear. It was my oldest son calling from his brother’s phone, and I was confused — like when you swig a sip of milk only to discover it’s gone sour.
“Stephen’s been stung. Dad said bring him Benadryl. And hurry.”
Just like that our plans were determined for us, only we didn’t realize it yet.
My husband, sons, and brother-in-law had hardly begun their first round of golf when a yellow jacket took aim at the tallest target, my baby. They played on, oblivious to the war already begun in my son’s body.
We met them where the cart path meets the road. Rolling down the window, I thought to hand over the Benadryl, all four golfers approached our car. Stephen opened the back door and fell in. “He doesn’t feel like finishing,” my husband began. “Take him home and let him sleep.”
Hives covering exposed skin, and his eyelids, nose and lips swelling, he reminded me of Will Smith in the movie Hitch, that scene where he has an allergic reaction to shellfish. Except this wasn’t funny.
I passed him the pills and a bottle of water and knew we weren’t going home.
Maybe because I haven’t lived in this town very long or maybe because this was my baby, I couldn’t remember any locations for urgent care. I didn’t think this was ER-worthy, but I also knew he needed more than a nap. I started calling local friends, and whether it was a testament to our times or too early on a Saturday morning, no one answered their phone.
I started sending four-word voice texts: Medical emergency please call.
That did the trick.
We arrived to a full house, but I think between my son’s 6′ 2″ frame spilling out of the plastic waiting room chair, his pitiful bare feet (golf shoes left at the course because his feet were itching like crazy), his lethargy, and that swelling and those hives, they ushered him back as soon as we completed check-in. The nurse began a cursory exam when his nausea hit hard and fast. She rushed out of the room to get a basin and returned to see the reading on the blood pressure monitor: 53/26
With speed and efficiency belying her concern, she called for a wheelchair, alerted the medical staff to his pressure and wheeled him straight to a bed. I didn’t think I heard correctly so I asked Did you say 53/26? and she sing-songed Uh-huh.
Not wanting to alarm my son, I quietly sat down and watched a live version of ER unfold before my eyes. On one side of my baby a nurse started an IV, and on the other someone stabbed his thigh with an epi-pen. That was the only time he made any noise — a yelp that crumbled me. An epi-pen hurts, or maybe it was the shock of it, and I wished I could take his pain.
This is when I marvel at God.
How could He give up His son to the cloak of humanity? How could He knowingly give Him over to the emotional anguish and unconscionable brutality He would face?
Though it’s impossible for me to fully understand the answer, I catch a glimpse in my own wish for my child — He loves us so much Jesus takes the pain of His children.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only son.
Danger passed, the atmosphere settled and my son never moved. I studied him like I haven’t in so long — when did he grow so tall that his head and feet draped over both edges of a single bed?
We’re facing new seasons, he and I, endings and beginnings tangled together.
My love for Jesus has led me to believe what may feel like loss isn’t really loss at all. I’ve prayed for this boy since before he was born and watched him flourish and grow in the Lord; he’s following the path we hoped for. We’ve checked the list and he has all the things he needs, and it was first through his older sister and then brother we learned how to pray for his newest adventure.
He’s tall and strong and doesn’t need me like he did when he was little, and it’s easy to believe my “job”as his mama is over because his daily need for me is diminished in so many ways.
Until he gets stung by a yellow jacket and I realize some things will never change.
Tomorrow we take him to college.
I’ll return to an empty nest.
Are you facing empty nest or launching your first to college? Maybe you have one entering his/her senior year? Talk to me about how you’re feeling and how we might pray for you. These are all big deals, and I promise it helps to share.