Prodigal – A Mother’s tale
I didn’t let my son see me cry when he left. I’m the strong one, the competent one, the emotional centre. But I did weep that day. It was hurt, “why would my boy leave? What work can be more important than family? How can he value strangers above His own? How can he preach love with so much indifference, cruelty and hurt in his own heart?”. It was anger at my husband for letting him go – I’m not sure I will ever truly understand that. It was anger at myself for teaching him to think for himself, for giving him that contrary self-will. It was loss – not the loss of death, for that is somehow understandable and expected – no this was worse than death for we had lost him and had taken from us the beautiful times we had spent. Our family was rended from that moment. So of course I cried.
But to remain in that mourning? Then I would truly have lost him. My husband comforted me in those days, He was and is the most loving and forgiving man I know. And he would wait each day at the end of the day at the end of the road leading to our house – for though he had no reason to hope the boy would return….still he had hope. That hope gave me comfort too and infused me with strength. On the days that my letters to my son were returned through our letterbox “Return to sender”, my husband’s hope and strength held me up. On the days we went to the city for festival and I would see him across the square and he would sense me seeing him, look up, right into my eyes so I would know he had seen me; and then to look not just past me, but through me….I thought I might die on those days, but my husband would grip my hand and smile. And I would glance to my side and see my older son, and the pain would somehow be bearable.
Oh yes, my older son. The One Who Stayed. The Faithful boy. I loved him then, for it demonstrated more of his Father’s heart than the son who left to be a preacher ever did. I would learn in later years that the young preacher showed his Father’s heart in different ways – encouragement, joy, determination. But even before I learned that, I still loved him. Despite his indifference, unfaithfulness, cruelty I still loved him. He was part of my own soul, how could I do anything else? My friends thought me mad, told me to pour my love into the son that stayed, the one that now ran the business – for his father spent less and less time in the office and more and more time at the end of the road. The business would have collapsed without my eldest boy. But I did wonder some days, whether he spent too much time in that office. There were plenty of others to cover all the hours, he could have spent some of them standing beside his father waiting for the return of the brother. So out of Love I spoke to him on a winter night, like a great salesman I pitched to him time with his daddy as if it were a commodity. It was perhaps the wrong way to go about it – but thank God it had the right outcome.
And so My elder boy Sean learned from the presence of his father. learned Patience, learned Hope, learned of the deeper faithfulness. And just the joy of spending time with his daddy.
But what was I to do about my younger boy, my Rueben, who still left a whole in my life. Would I just stand and wait like his father? Or should I continue to chase him across the miles, to let him know that he is still loved, to let him know the door is constantly open? At the beginning I thought the waiting was doing nothing, but i see now that it is everything. So I wait with my Husband and elder son for the boy who may never come back. We will wait here until we grow old and die, our son will wait, and his sons will wait. Until we hear that our boy has left this life, we will wait. And I will write. And I will Love. And We endure, we hold on, we are faithful. To the end.
And I think you know how this ends. Forgiveness, embracing, acceptance. And heart exploding love. We celebrated the day my boy came home. And I loved him from top to bottom. And I forgot the years, they were nothing next to having him in my arms. To see his smile, to hear his voice. He was my son again. He was Always my son.