Mom, one of my earliest memories of you is finding me at Topsail Beach when I went missing.
I remember waking up early and having the exciting realization that I could join you and Dad on your morning walk on the beach. Little did I know that part of your purpose in the early hour walk was to have some time to yourselves without me and my sister. Now that I think about it, I smile thinking of the two of you enjoying time together walking on the sand, hearing the waves gently break on the shore. Walking with my husband on the beach, just us, is certainly one of my favorite things to do. But when you are toddler age, such appreciation is nonexistent because life is firmly centered on self. One must be in the middle of everything because if not… something of immense importance will surely be missed.
So with my centrist view of the world I got up and excitedly put on my shoes and went to the glass doors leading outside. Oddly, the coffee table was pushed up against the doors quite well, blocking my ability to reach the doorknob and lock. Logic and reason did not give me pause. With my now adult mind I can easily see that this barrier was meant to deter me from leaving the house. Instead, my toddler strength pushed the coffee table aside and I unlocked the door, bounced down the steps to the street and headed across the road to the beach access. I ran down the sandy path and arrived at the opening to see… beach and waves… and no people. No Mom. No Dad. Just waves and sand and sea grass to my right and left. Hmmm…. They must be walking fast today. I must run and catch up with them. To the right I ran, down onto the beach to the harder packed sand. Running… running… still no sight of Mom and Dad. And now I realize how much beach and sand there is… with no people. And this is no longer fun.
Exhilaration from the run and anticipation of finding them is quickly overtaken by concern and then abject fear. Ok, I will return to the high sand near the dunes and sea grass and look for the flag that marks the beach access point back to our rental house. The sand is so high up there and my little legs slow down a lot to make these hard high tracks. There’s a flag. Not our flag. There’s another flag, maybe that is our marker? I walk up that trail and see that the street and houses are not familiar. Back to the high sand to look for our flag again. So many flags now and all of them are so similar. Oh no, still no sign of Mom and Dad and now I do not know how to get back to the house where it is safe and familiar. I want my parents. I think I am lost. As the realization of this fact settles in I start to cry and I stop walking. I just stand in the high stand looking down at my feet and cry. A lot. Then I look up at the beachfront house directly in front of me. An older woman starts to walk down from her second floor porch. She is walking toward me now. Should I be afraid? I don’t know. So I continue to cry. She asks me if I am lost and I say yes. She says other things that I do not remember as I stand there and cry and cry and cry. Then she says her son can help me look for our beach rental. Alarm. A strange man? No, no, no and no again. I am uncertain about this strange woman, but she looks kind and is older. I like older people and standing here on this high sand immobile and crying is much preferred to walking away with a strange man. Oh my goodness what have I done?
Then up the beach, coming from the north from the direction I had been walking I see the most comforting and blessed sight imaginable. Mom!!! Mom walking toward me, quickly. Not running, walking and smiling. Not angry. Not crying. Walking and beaming at me. I move toward her, running I think, and land in her embrace immediately relieved and all fear melts away. She has a happy relieved exchange with the woman and then we start to walk together back to our house. I have no idea if she is talking to me, all I know is that I am holding Mom’s hand and my world is safe again. Fear is gone and today is going to be good. When we arrive at our rental, we start up the steps together and then Mom turns around so I turn around too. There’s my Dad in the distance, coming up the street! He sees me and starts to run and he is full on crying. He scoops me up into his big arms and holds me tight at his chest still crying. He carries me up the steps and we go into the house. My sister was much relieved to see me and I remember all three of their faces having an odd mixture of relief/happiness and stunned shock of some kind. Like, “Did that really just happen?” No one yelled at me. Just lots of hugs.
All these years later I remember my Mom following my footsteps knowing she would find me and I wonder what was going through her mind that allowed her to greet me gently with a smile and a hug. No scolding or fussing. No tears. Just her quiet confidence that she was there and I was safe. It must have been Jesus. He led her to my steps and ultimately to me. He must have whispered comfort to her and trust in Him that He would lead her to me. He must have strengthened her to let go of fear and cling to Him as she searched and believed all would be well.
His strength in her continues to speak to me today. At times in whispers and other times with the roar of a mighty wave crashing in. We will begin in home hospice care soon and this means that the natural course of her natural life is predicted to be 6 months at the most. Yet I know that her course is so much more supernatural. Her course has been His course. An unpredictable wild ride that leaves us breathless at times. I want her Home with Him more than I want her here with me. I want her supernatural footsteps to follow His into eternity where they will be face to face. At home. Safe. No fear. Only love. Forever found.