She absent-mindedly watched the ‘fallen hero’ message on the news. Her mind as glazed- over as her look, the line, “He was twenty-two,” made a shallow impression. “So is mine.” She craned he neck back to look at the clock. “Fifteen minutes.”
“Mom,” a fresh voice called, “I just realized my toothbrush is about shot, do you think they have them at the airport?”
“I’ve got one, Allan ,” She said shoving off of the easy chair, “it’s in my vanity drawer.” She met a young man midway between the family room and the master bathroom. “I’ll get it!” she chimed, “You like soft, right?”
She stole a glance at him in the mirror before he said a quick ‘thanks’ and hurried away.” The image stuck with her; the smile, the black-brown eyes, the matching gelled hair- now with that goofy crew cut he’d always wanted as a boy, and that roman nose, that she’d never considered handsome before she saw it on him. She smiled, leaning on the counter as the picture melted away, to be replaced by the memory of a much younger boy. His eyes used to sparkle when he announced he was playing ‘gee-ji-joes’…and in that squeaky little voice! Daddy -and Mommy- were often enticed into the game. He used to laugh at her ‘man’ voice, and teased her about it for years to come. A lump formed suddenly in her throat as her mind stumbled over the motherly instincts that circumstances demanded that she now put aside. “I guess I had my heart set on his coming home for awhile after college.” That had been the plan.
Composing herself quickly enough, Mom came out to see what she could do to help. Dad had the same idea, apparently, standing idly in the family room fidgeting with his hands. Allan didn’t need anything else.
“Yep, a good pair of Nike’s will take you far,” Dad said, filling the silence. Allan deftly flipped the laces of his tennis shoes around his fingers.
Mom recalled his struggles to tie them for the first few times. “You showed me already, I can do it,” he’d said. He had always had an independent spirit.
“Just because he’s confident, doesn’t mean he’s ready!” motherly reason reminded her. “He’s all grown-up now...”
“But don’t get them wet,” Dad said interrupting her thoughts, “They’re never the same after that!”
Allan chuckled, “I don’t think that’s gonna happen there!”
Less than an hour later, Allan was checked in and they were waiting at the gate. All there was left to do was wait for the boarding call.
“The air conditioning’s a little cold for me in here, and my sweater’s in the Lumina. Do I have time to get it before…”
“Oh, yeah, at least an hour…” Allan answered. Mom’s heart retaliated at ‘at least’ but she smiled and said ‘okay’.
Shut in the car , she couldn’t restrain the tears. “I didn’t want to cry,” she whispered, but the hot,sticky tears flowed all the more.
“Oh, God, I feel so bad...” she groaned, “What if something happens to him?”
She raised her head and gasped, unable to breathe through a stuffy nose.
“I don’t want to let him go.” Somehow she connected memory of the young soldier on the news to her own thoughts in that moment.
She took a deep breath, and sat quietly for a few moments. “It’s not like that,” she reminded herself , “There’s a great deal of difference between Baghdad and where he’s going…and he’s not in the military.”
“Of all the things he’d said he wanted to be when he grew up, he never mentioned being a missionary.” She smiled and wondered when it first occurred to him. Maybe there was a guest at his church, maybe he saw something on television. He had announced it last Christmas, and now that he’d graduated, he was on his way. She couldn’t imagine why he felt so passionate to do it- perhaps because she was called to be a Mom.
“ It takes pretty strong faith to be a missionary,” she thought, “Like Eric Liddell’s…and David Livingstone’s…and Nate Saint’s….” Gradually, it occurred to her that she couldn’t be prouder of Allan.
No more flashbacks from Allan’s childhood came to her that day. She trusted her little boy to her Lord, and watched admiringly as a strong, willing and determined fighter in the Lord’s Army boarded the plane headed for the battlefront.
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