Friday, June 12, 2015

A driver's license

The day we left for family camp was a hard, hard day. It had been an emotional morning, for Matt's younger sister took her behind-the-wheel driver's test. To say I was a wreck is an understatement. As soon as she disappeared out of sight with the testing driver, I fell apart. I called my best friend who "got it," who understood why I was a hot, crying mess. She understood why, though happy for my daughter, I was completely undone. She's one of the very few who knows the utter fear and sorrow this moment held for me.

Instead of showing up excitedly at the same DMV building where my son took his driver's test only four years ago, I wanted badly to just lock my daughter in a closet. I wanted to protect her and keep her from driving. My heart hurt for her, for I felt she was cheated, cheated from having a mom who was excited. It sucked. It really, really sucked. Four years ago when I did this, it was exciting. I was a proud parent experiencing a "rite of passage" with my oldest, my firstborn.

But it wasn't excitement I felt, by any means, that Friday. I couldn't figure out, either, what it was about that particular day, but there was something significant, nagging about it. I just couldn't put my finger on it. It wasn't long, however, before my daughter returned with the examiner, and I shoved my uneasiness aside. I had pulled myself together by the time they had parked and walked to the entrance. I didn't ask my daughter if she had passed the test for fear of upsetting her if she hadn't. However, as we walked directly to the counter and she was given the license form to fill out, it was clear she had passed. The examiner confirmed that she did well and congratulated her. I took a deep breath and uttered an appropriate reply. It felt like one of those "wow" moments that catches you off-guard, sort of a vertigo feeling where the floor tilts and you feel a bit disconcerted.

She finished filling out the papers and then posed for the head shot. As I stood to the side, I noticed the blue background for the photo. It was cerulean blue. Matt's color. I softly smiled. A God-nod.

We left the DMV and celebrated her accomplishment by stopping for her favorite shake on the way home. Once we were home, I pulled up my calendar and flipped back to 2011. My mind had finally connected the dots, and I was pretty sure I knew what the nagging feeling was. Sure enough, the calendar soon confirmed it. Matt had taken his driving test in May. In fact, his sister took her test exactly one day before Matt took his. I sighed in disbelief and shook my head.

This was definitely one of those times I didn't understand God's purpose. We never planned for it to fall on that day. We didn't pick the date. In fact, her original appointment wasn't until July 3rd, but the driving instructor said to call daily to see if they had cancellations as you want to take the test as soon as possible after the last lesson with them. So we called the same day as her last lesson and was told they had a cancellation for Friday. Of course, we took it per the driving school's recommendation to keep it as close to the last lesson as possible. I never considered the date as I'm not a detail person. It didn't occur to me or come to mind regarding Matt's test date. 

Now, at least, I had relief, for I finally had the answer to what was bugging me. This dance of joy and grief? I never wanted grief for a partner, and he's awfully good at tripping me up. I'm still trying to learn the steps, how to stay on my feet when he throws in an unexpected turn. I wish more than anything that I could be naively excited for my daughter, but I can't. I simply can't, for the gravity of teenage driving and mortality obscures my world. My son died in a car accident just two months after getting his license. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to respond with enthusiasm to the multiple comments of, "Oh! She has her license? How wonderful!"

Yet, as much as it causes my heart to fear, I can not and will not live in fear. I will, instead, turn to the Lord and offer up a sacrifice of praise. Praise for His mercy and grace. Praise for His faithfulness and comfort. Praise for walking with me every step of this journey.

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