I lay squinting in the sun, eyes half closed, toes woven through the thick plastic threads of the lawn chair, and I listen to splashes and laughter. I can hear my boys above the ripple of the crowd, their sweet voices cast into summer air. “Mom,” my redhead shouts, “come into the water and play with us.” I toss my arm into the air and wave back, but it’s not the response he’s looking for. I know I’m disappointing him, but the sun keeps kissing my skin over and over. Perfection like this comes so seldom and I just want to give into it. Be quiet and still. Hot, melted into serenity.
Time passes and I switch between lazy lounging and sitting up, enthralled in a book. These are the moments of summer, pages flipped as I bake in the sun, my boys in the background, their joy infectious. I put a hand over my eyes to shade the sun for a moment and I look off into the water. It sparkles aquamarine, a rough-cut shimmering birthstone.
My oldest son is perched on the rough white diving board. He bends his knees, throws his arms down with pointed fingers, and I watch as he jumps up and into the water like a slender pencil. Beauty like this, my sweet eight-year-old miracle child, brings my heart so close to the surface I’m afraid it’ll launch out of my chest like a rocket, skyward to heaven. I almost can’t stand it. Because intense love like that hurts.
We’ve fallen into the deep end with him, trying to breath through dark waters of a brain injury and seizures, our hearts ripped open like a gulf in the black abyss below. But Jesus gave us hope and we held onto promises we didn’t understand, but still we held on. We reached our arms out, sure someone would grab our flailing hands and hold them tight. And Jesus did. He pulled us out of the water when we thought it would be easier to drown. And here I am. Watching.
I watch as he swims to the side instead of the ladder and the lifeguard startles him with a shrill whistle. He looks to me with alarm and I wave him over to the ladder. He swims like a puppy tossed into the water for the first time. Not strong, but steady even if slightly flailing. He is awkward. But ripple-by-ripple, as pool waves crest over him, he reaches the side. And it’s about all I handle. That God could give me this child. Save him when I almost lost him. After a portion of his brain almost shut down his body with seizures, that he can move across the water and swim back to me, it’s a grace deeper than I’ve ever imagined.
“Mom,” Avry shouts. My redhead, my second born, sees me alert, and he’s not going to take no for an answer this time. “Come play with us,” he says again. Freckles have exploded like stars across his face.
Suddenly perfection isn’t watching my children. Somehow I yearn to be a part of it, to dip my feet into grace, to feel it as it swirls around me. And so I do what I seldom do and walk to the diving board. I step onto the sandpaper surface. My kids are jumping up and down, cheering and screaming. “Mom’s jumping in!” they shout. And I do. There’s no grace in the physical of it, a bit of nose-plugged flailing is the best I can do, but my children don’t care. And suddenly neither do I.
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