Hours after brother chatter fades and dreams come, I turn on the hall light and tip-toe to the bottom bunk where you sleep.
A dim glow falls across your face and I bend knees to peer close.
Instantly, heart-a-swell, I’m overwhelmed. By you. Our son. Our Ty.
As I lean in, gentle breaths match your chest, the dogs on your pajamas rising higher, than lower. Smiling, I think of hours earlier, when out of your mouth came bathtub giggles, and brave, independent words. Oh, how we pray compassion is ever-on-your lips, and self-control at the heart of your actions.
Reaching out, my hand glides your cheek; a ripe peach to the touch. I wonder if you’ll wake. Looking at our second-born, I drink in the moment. Both thumbs now; small strokes back and forth across the apples of your soft skin. You are beautiful, sweet boy.
It begins, that ache.
Wasn’t it just yesterday you joined our family? Full of hedge-hog hair, our spark-plug bundle. They say ‘time flies’ but now, kneeling, I see a young boy, and the ache in my chest is recognizable. You are growing up.
Spirited boy. My hand covers yours, the last toddler remnants barely visible; knuckle dimples. No more baby rolls or infant ringlets. Now it’s big boy undies and I can do it myself.
Palms rest on red, dog pajamas. Up and down as you breathe in and out. God, I say, one word per breath. be. with. our. boy. They come without warning. One tear, then another. Funny how one minute you drive me mad, and the next, I’m enamored by your imaginative spirit and love for life. You, little Ty, are contagious. You are a mover and shaker, and even as you sleep, I wonder about the bad guys you’re fighting, and the heroes you’re joining.
I reach for unruly hair and as you roll, your face captures full the light pouring in. I stare long. A million thoughts and prayers collide.
God, he is Yours.
Is this how You felt when you looked at your only Son? Did you experience the familiar ache at watching Jesus born a babe, then grow up; wrestling with his siblings, learning in school, making friends. As you watched Him perform miracles, love unconditionally, and raise people from the dead- were You overwhelmed? I so easily forget that You were the first Father, the first parent. There isn’t a thought or feeling You haven’t felt.
You created that ache.
From where does it come? Is it a desire to keep babes young, willing them to put off adulthood and promised trials? How easily I mistake this ache from a parent’s perspective in wishing them little forever, when in fact, the ache has been placed in us, since before time by You. A longing for heaven, this ache woos us to eternity, to our home. As Your children, we yearn for more because we are created for perfect relationships void of pain, fear, or sadness.
As I watch you sleep, I recognize this ache as a groaning for eternity. In Romans 8:23-25, Paul speaks of just this: a hope for heaven, a hope for something beyond our finite lives.
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
I bend over and kiss your forehead, the same way you do mine each morning. Sleep, little Ty, sleep. Dream of fighting bad guys and joining heroes. When you wake, I pray you soak up every ounce of life’s adventure. May you come to recognize your own ache within, a thirst for eternity, where all hope is restored. Long after you outgrow your red, dog pajamas.