Wendy chose image #3
By Wendy L. Macdonald
How did today arrive so soon?
Yesterday I held your toddler-sized hand while we waded through autumn leaves that blanketed our country property. We startled and then laughed when Abby, our family dog, a black lab cross, ran ahead of us and caused a grouse to spring out from the winter creek bed that had already begun to flow.
And I reminded you we must always be alert to black bears and never venture far without an adult. You nodded your young head as your blond hair waved and your blue eyes and dimples wooed me deeper into maternal love than I already was.
Days later our family strolled down our long and winding driveway, past the trickling creek, and then we stopped and looked both ways on the dead-end gravel road we lived on. I spied an adult bear crossing from the other side onto the corner of our neighbor’s empty property that had a well-used deer trail leading straight past our chicken house. My hand closed tighter on your trembling one; I picked you up and wrapped you in motherly arms. We all turned around and headed back to the house while your body shook like the last of alder leaves still dangling in our woods.
“It’s okay, young man,” I whispered, “Mama won’t ever let you go.”
I still hadn’t let go when a few years later you and your brother came running up the front porch exhausted and wide-eyed. A stream of barking sounded somewhere in our front forest where our dog lingered without you. I listened, amazed, while you confessed you’d treed a black bear only to discover it had a cub; and when the mother saw you watching her baby, she rushed down from the tree to chase mine. But our dog bought you and your brother just enough time by charging the bear and keeping her at bay.
I shook my head in disbelief that my blond baby had already outgrown his fear of wildlife. But you promised me you wouldn’t chase bears again. You said, with relief in your voice, you’d learned your lesson.
Soon all the leaves of autumn dropped. You boys enjoyed wheelbarrow rides I gave you after each of my trips to the compost bins, and you dove into what was left of the leaf pile under the giant cottonwood by the garden and threw your arm around your brother as you both posed for a picture. Your little sister, now the toddler, smiled on one side and the dog sat, with tongue dangling, on the other side. I clicked a shot in time, knowing how fast it flies into the future.
A few more autumns flew by like pages torn from our calendar hanging in the kitchen, and we all sat around the dining room table in the city house we’d moved to. I glanced past the floral centerpiece and saw your young adult eyes stretch wide as you looked out the window.
I turned, following your gaze to see a black bear lumbering past our tall cherry tree.
I gasped. “So much for thinking I didn’t need to worry about bears in town.”
You laughed, and with surprise in your voice you said, “I thought it was a big dog.”
Our brave black dog was buried in the woods beside our former home. She’d have barked up a storm if she’d been here with us.
Another autumn passed by, and you’re again sitting at this table. You’re feeling tired from a long day at work and a short sleep the night before. Your mind, growing and changing like the seasons, has decided it’s time to shed the leaves of childhood. You tell me you’re making plans. You tell me ahead of time so I’ll be prepared.
I step into your empty room. You haven’t moved out yet. But it feels empty when you’re not in it. Tears slip down my wrinkled cheeks and past the dimples you inherited. I see a few autumn leaves out your bedroom window waiting for me to collect them for the compost bin.
I won’t hold you back from facing your future. You don’t need me to carry you safe from bears—from anything—anymore. But I’ll hold you in my heart as I daily pray for blessings and safety over your life.
Because, young man, Mama won’t ever let you go.
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Wendy L. Macdonald
Wendy L. Macdonald is a Canadian, inspirational writer/blogger/podcaster who also loves to photograph nature. When she’s not writing, drawing, gardening, or sewing, she enjoys hiking, with her husband, in the beautiful parks of the Comox Valley. She homeschooled her children and believes all those years of reading wonderful classics aloud helped develop her love of storytelling and writing. Wendy invites you to visit her blog: www.wendylmacdonald.com , where you will find nature photography and links to her “Daily Bread” style Facebook page and other social media sites. Her passion is inspiring others to walk with faith, hope, and love. You can hear her podcasts at: www.hopestreamradio.com/program/walking-with-hope .
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