What is Safe?

I remember as a  young mother of four working hard to keep my kids safe. 

dominic and siblings little children at nannys

Next to fed and dry (two still in diapers!) that was each day’s goal:  No one got hurt.  

It never occurred to me THEN to add:  No one got killed.  

Because the most outlandish thing I could imagine was one of them falling or touching a hot stove and us having to rush to the emergency room.

Then I became a mother of teens and one by one they acquired a driver’s license and motored away from our home.  

That’s when I began to beg God to spare their lives.

One particularly frightening test was when all four went to Louisiana-my eldest driving and the rest in the van with her.  I made them call me every hour and tell me they were OK.  It was the first time I realized that I could lose every one of them in a single instant should they crash-all my eggs in one basket.

I was glad when that day was over.  Although the irony is they were no “safer” at the end of those 24 hours than they were at the beginning.

Because what I know now, but didn’t know then is this:  There is no such thing as “safe”

Not the way we like to think of it-not the way we add labels to devices, seat belts to cars, helmets to everything from bicycles to skateboards.  Of course we should absolutely take precautions!  Many lives are saved by them every single day.  

But.  BUT…

Life is more random than we want to admit.  And there is no defense against random. 

There is no way to screen for every underlying physical abnormality, no way to drive so well you can stop the drunk or inattentive driver from plowing through a stop sign, no way to anticipate every foolish choice a young person might make that ends in disaster instead of a funny story.

IMG_1795

My first response when Dominic died driving his motorcycle was that I wanted my surviving sons to sell theirs.  They did so out of respect for me.  Neither of them wanted their mama to have to endure a second knock on the door and the same message delivered twice.

I receive it as a sacrifice offered in love from them. 

Because it was.  

Since Dominic left us almost four years ago, I have had to deal with my desperate need to keep my living children safe. 

And it is a real struggle.

Each child is involved in a career that includes inherent risk.  None of them are foolhardy, but they are exposed-perhaps more than many-to potential bad actors and dangerous circumstances.

julian and branch in snow
This branch fell just minutes after my son was standing in that spot splitting logs.

How I long for those days when I could tuck everyone in, turn out the lights and sleep soundly because all my chicks were safe inside my own little coop!  How I wish the only danger I thought about or knew about was a bump on the head from hitting a coffee table!

How my heart aches for one more moment of blissful ignorance!

But I can’t live in some imagined water color past.  I have to live in the world as it is.  

So I remind my heart that safe is an illusion-no matter where we are.  Life is not living if it’s only about preserving breath and not about making a difference.

And I let go.  

Over and over and over.

I release them  to be who they were meant to be. 

Even if it costs more than I am willing to give.  

fiona james and julian at james wedding by water

 

 

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

3 thoughts on “What is Safe?”

  1. Yes, I totally relate to this. From the time our Jonathan was born, we felt like we had to protect him from getting hurt. He was our most active one who was very gifted athletically, but at the same time did things at an early age. It was hard to stay two steps ahead of his energy level and constant activity. He played soccer at age six on a team that was made up of mixed ages up to 13. If he got knocked down, he simply got up and kept playing. No big deal. Sports helped channel his energy. But, as he got older the activities were of course more of a risk. He loved to ski, snowboard, water ski, play football, baseball, and soccer. When he was young I was vigilant about scanning any new environment that might have a potential risk. He had been a child who could open childproof caps off of medicine bottles or pull the stopper off a sample bottle of French perfume and drink it before I could get to him. So, that curiosity for exploring had trained me to be the protective mother. But, after he was out on his own and living at college, all I could do was pray and let go of that . Being an adventuresome type he got a motorcycle on his 21st birthday. Two months later, he crashed and died on the highway when another driver crossed the highway in front of him. She did not see him although she did have a stop sign.
    So, from that point on, my mothering was characterized even more by fear and worry for years with my other three. But, you are right, there is no totally safe world. God is in control of our circumstances and even the lifespan of how long we live is still in His control. Living without fear and trusting the Lord with our children’s and grandchildren’s lives takes great faith. I continue to have to let go and trust more fully .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a mother, I worked so hard at keeping my children safe. I worked so hard at protecting them. It feels almost like a “mommy” video game in retrospect, each level of new dangers…if they can just survive crossing the street, swimming pools, riding their bikes, driving, dating…..we are going to be okay. I didnt know to be afraid of blood clots.
    Thank you for your writing Melanie. I am grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so very sorry for your pain and your loss Donmarie. Who can possibly imagine all the things that might/do go wrong? It’s a mercy that we don’t know about them-until we do. Praying that the Lord overwhelms you with His mercy, grace and love and gives you strength for each new day. ❤

      Like

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