On This Side

On the way up Old Bridle Path, leading to Mt. Lafayette, New Hampshire’s sixth tallest mountain, there is a place on the trail where the trees part.

From there, you can look up and see a series of humps, a roller coaster of lesser crests which are the gateway to the 5,260′ rocky crown of Lafayette.

It’s a daunting view.

You know you have to haul yourself up there, over those hellish hills, if you ever want to stand on top and look down, across all of Franconia Notch and beyond.

Along the way, head down, you grasp and claw, finding what beauty you can between the sweat and heavy breathing.

Until at last.

As I write this, I think of how seven years ago on this day, I went about my life as if nothing were amiss. Not knowing what was to come, two days hence. It was uncommon grace, the not-knowing.

I look under the bed and see his backpack stored there, the one he had forgotten at his friend’s house from that day. He left so little behind.

All it contained was a sock ball and a pair of worn out Chuck Taylors. It’s how he lived his earth-bound life and after, he simply didn’t need it where he was going.

He had only new ahead, a glorious death, like the life of an autumn leaf. Burnished gold or orange or red, a fall, then the waiting. For us. For me.

But unlike the leaf, his eternal self (I don’t pretend to know when, or how) will not contain even a cell of decay.

Not. One. Cell.

On this side, things continue to happen, good things and hard, heedless to the one who is gone.

I have to admit, it is sometimes a daunting view, from this side.

I cannot do it alone as I wait, but I am grateful for the One who holds my hand and listens as I haul and breathe, crest after crest, on the way to until.

Grateful, for He listens as I pray – for a sweeter disposition, for living bread that satisfies, for redemption, for friends, for peace, for plans. For my kids and the littles, for this lonely ache, for temptations, boredom, and pain.

I think of the seed that was my son. Planted here, on this side, a brief blooming, but full of the all any mother would want. Sweetness and honor, devotion and warmth.

Each of us is also a seed, each a potential to reproduce – hope, love, help. Eternal friendships, eternal family, eternal joy.

Seven years ago, two days from now, I lost my son from this side.

It’s okay.

I know he’s waiting.

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