A month ago my son turned 15 and received his driving permit. And now it is my responsibility to teach him how to drive. A job I would love for his dad to be able to do. When my husband was dying, he made me promise that when our son was old enough to drive that I would send him to my father-in-law to learn to drive a stick shift. Jared knew I would not be able to teach our son that but still wanted him to learn. Since Jared’s death almost five years ago, Steven has learned so many things. So many life lessons. And now he’s learning how to drive.
Our little boy was at football practice when his dad died. Telling him that his dad had gone to heaven was the second hardest thing I have ever done. In that moment, I watched his innocence disappear. I watched the life he knew slip away. I knew his life would never be the same. He would always know great sorrow. Heartache. The pain of his losing dad way too soon. And I just prayed it wouldn’t change his spirit too much. That he wouldn’t lose his faith. That he would not become angry and bitter.
Instead of becoming an angry kid, my son is a free spirit. He LOVES adventure. Sees life as an opportunity. Is loving and kind. Has faith that could move mountains. His dad’s death made him more compassionate. More resilient. Taught him to never take anyone or any moment in time for granted.
In the 5 years his dad has been gone, I have tried hard to keep his memory alive. Remind my son just how much he was loved. Allow him space to heal and grieve. All while encouraging him to live life.
That first day when I let him drive, he had a look of such pride on his face. And from the profile, he looked just like his dad! We talked about how we wish his dad could be here to teach him to drive. How proud his dad would be. And then my son said something I’ll never forget. ”I’m glad you’re teaching me to drive mom. You’re the best.” Yes, we both missed his dad, wished we could share the moment with Jared and yet my son was grateful that I could be his teacher. And in that moment, I felt so blessed.
Life has led us down a windy road. One I definitely would not have chosen. One that is now full of bittersweet moments. But at the same time, it has created a bond between my son and I that cannot be explained. A bond that might not exist if his dad was here to teach him to drive.
So as I teach my son to drive and push the imaginary brake, I will miss Jared. Wish he were here. But at the same time, I’ll be grateful that I get to share in these moments with my son. That I can teach him some important life lessons. That I have the privilege of watching him become a wonderful young man. That I get to drive down the road of life with my greatest blessing.
I will remind myself how blessed I am that I get to share in these moments. That I get to be there to make new memories with my son. That I am fortunate he can say to me I’m glad you’re here. Because his dad, my late husband, can’t. He will never again have the opportunity to sit beside Steven and teach them a life lesson. He will never have the opportunity to be in the passenger seat encouraging our son to keep going. He will never again get to here Steven say I love you.
Sometimes I have to look beyond the grief and see the positive. Look beyond the sorrow and see the joy. Look beyond what’s missing and be grateful for what is right in front of me. This is definitely not the road of life I would have chosen. But, as any widow can tell you, I wasn’t given a choice. But I am determined to drive it the best way I can. And encourage my son to drive through this road of life with a smile on his face and love in his heart.