I was four when the world got the first sign. An omen for the upcoming generation. It was perched on the armrest in his family’s apartment. Off some place off Rock Springs, where a large boulder served as my resting stone. The place where wonders would later be created. Where I would hold a trowel like King Arthur holding his sword over some long forgotten stone of his own, where the lights would fall on the weapon, and his face alone. Chosen.
There are bigger things ahead. It was here, on this armrest, that a boy showed the world just what he was made of, living vicariously off of some mermaid on a rock on the television.
Out of all the Princesses the boy met, he identified with some little mermaid who wanted to be a human. Deep down, that feeling is still there. He wanted normalcy, so who else to turn to but Ariel herself, who was also perched on some resting stone, watching some Prince wash ashore and find the help he needs. But what of our poor Ariel? She was still a mermaid, helplessly devoted to some human she rescued from certain doom.
Through some glass, the boy felt the same. He was apart of something bigger, something beyond, and here he rested his little body on the armrest, reaching out to Prince Eric himself.
This should have been the first sign to my mother, who watched me with the utmost care. Her little wonder, her little prince, could it be that her little son was different, a black sheep? Maybe, but there was no time for that now. It was time to pray. It was time to bask in the wonder of the boy’s survival. She almost lost him after all. The ambulance, the ER, it was all one big blur for her. But he was here, he was singing; he was alive. Granted, he was imitating a mermaid, but just to see him smile again was enough for her.
Until it wasn’t. In a world of perfectly beautiful children, a mother only saw flaws in her little prince. In her eyes, her boy was an abomination. She knew it when he sat at her bedside, that dark April night, listening to confessions from her scared and clearly confused son.
As a Christian, a mother wanted her children to be whole. To find sanctuary in a god who was greater, more protective than her. It’s what kept her asleep at night, knowing a Higher Power would always look after her son if she were to pass. That April night, she sat across from her son and listened with pain in her heart. Her little prince took refuge in the arms of another man, a much older man. Tears fell from her cheeks. His salvation was in crisis. He is choosing to live a life where she cannot be by his side. And between the sips of breath he took between his own tearful sobs, all she saw were the flaws.
For his mother, perfection was made when you asked Jesus into your heart. Perfection was made when you decided to devote yourself into a man on a cross who died for your sins. Thankfully, we devote ourselves who give themselves wholly to one another. The ultimate sign of devotion is when you are willing to give up your life so another might live. Sadly, there are some people in this world who, while clinging to these values, show love, but with applied terms and conditions. We feel security within ourselves if they meet and agree to this unwritten contract. As long as their views aligned with ours, we were safe. No harm would come to us, nor anyone in our families. The other religions didn’t provide the proof nor the affirmation that satisfied his mother. Her devotion to Jesus blessed her with children. Each one beautiful in their own way. On the otherhand, she couldn’t help but also doubt: did her devotion also bring her this?
Count it all joy when you endure trials, some disciple once wrote. Bible-speak for Grin and Bear It.
She embraced the powers that be. God was able to draw her out of the pain, no one else. Not even her husband. In the dark corners of her heart, she blamed him. He was the reason behind all of this, but it certainly takes two to make an unwritten obligation to one another, especially when it is consummated to the end. Sure, they could have taken precautions to prevent it. She was too lost in the throes of the moment; A trait her son would also embrace, in the park, where the shadows and the darkness tread.
This confrontation–this conversation they had in her room–was out of obligation. Yes, on top of learning about this older gentleman, she also learned of a son’s breakdown in the pool. He confessed to hearing voices. He also confessed to telling his teachers, his principal, who urged him to tell his parents. This meeting was planned. And that’s what upset her the most.
Her son is making choices of his own. He decided to blindside her with his whereabouts on that Wednesday night. She tried to listen, but everything he said was loud static in her head. She couldn’t believe a single word he said. This was unlike her son. A boy who was so in love with the Lord; there was no way he could possibly turn his back on everything good in this world. To her, this flaw was something that scared her, because this choice, this lifestyle, created a barrier to their once perfect relationship. She saw this flaw, this chip, and couldn’t help but feel punished. For her own sins she made all those years back, before she met her firstborn, when she met a man in a uniform.
As Christians, their pastors implore them to always be open and honest with one another. If we are to be united as one body, then we must communicate. Where three or four were gathered in his name, there I was, confessing myself to fellow brothers and sisters, a congregation who negated a savior’s unconditional love, just because there was a virus in their body. And what else to do but eliminate it, quickly and quietly, for fear of contaminating a once self-perfected organism. Terminal and conditional love at its finest.
This is what belief does to a family. While the choices we make affect others, what it also does is tear people apart. One Nation under (someone else’s) god. The Higher Power I believe has a love that knows no bounds. It sees beyond color, beyond orientation, past the heart, body, and soul, but to the very nature of the person. To just Love. And nothing else.