Imagine two people in one room who have never met and will never meet. Yet both are as important to me as life itself. I am in the room with them.
This room lives in my heart, my past and my future. It is somewhere I’ve never been, yet I find a yearning now to go there: It is a place that I have imagined and I’m choosing to write about.
In this room is my mother nestled comfortably in her favorite chair, speaking in her familiar voice even though I haven’t heard it in nearly 35 years. Across from her on the couch is my 21-year-old son Trot, a young man with special needs, meeting her for the first time. I’m in that room with my mother who died when I was 29 and with my son as I prepare for my 64th birthday.
I had a hard time writing this story. Many thoughts which seem so applicable vanished when I hit the wrong computer key. I started over and the next set of thoughts that I came up with was different. Both were so real and so true, but they were different, drilling down on the complexity of emotions, the intensity and conflictedness that courses through me when I imagine the three of us sitting together in a quiet room.
There’s an electricity in the room, one that defies the traditional boundaries of time and space and years as they go by, framing this unique meeting, which though it never actually happened, recurs as a vision in my heart.
What would Mom think of me? What would mom think of Trot? What would Trot think of her? How would they interact? The power of it ignites my imagination, overcomes me and overwhelms me. A piece of my life taken from me too early coming together in this simple imagined room with a part of my life that has infused me with more love and purpose than perhaps I ever could have imagined.
Mom, meet Trot.
On the other hand, something tells me Mom and Trot may have met before. Where? In heaven. Yes, in heaven. Mom and Trot were there together and maybe, just maybe, she went up to God and asked of Him, “Please send that little boy to my son.” My mom never knew my wife Anne, but “looking down” she could see what a brilliant partner I had married, someone so strong and so unyielding in her faith that she would be the perfect mom for this boy if he were sent our way.
Back in the room with Mom, Trot and me — as they talk and she learns to understand the language in which he speaks and their grandmother/grandson relationship begins to bloom, I sit there and say to myself, “Yep, I think they’ve met before.”
What happened in this short visit is what normally happens during the course of a lifetime. We stayed about an hour. Our time together, however, was eternal. It drew from what had come before, framed it within us being together and connected — not only the two of them but the three of us — in ways that remain emotionally enduring.
“Trot, what do you like to do best?” Mom asked my son. “My iPad,” he answered. She was very perplexed. “Your what?” she said. “My iPad, Dee Dee. My iPad,” Trot answered equally perplexed at her apparent lack of understanding. Dee Dee was a name his cousins called my mother and Trot picked up quickly on this, another small sign that this was not their first meeting.
The technological divide was fascinating and fun yet it pointed to something deeper. The number of years that have gone by since Mom has passed away as a relatively young woman. I wasn’t much older than Trot when I lost my mom. I thought to myself, “Imagine if Trot lost Anne.” It was an almost unbearable thought particularly because she has been such a beacon in helping him navigate his special needs challenges. But it was in that moment that I was reminded he’s not just a special needs child — he’s a child. Because I could imagine the pain of any young man his age losing his mom. It happened to me.
But now we’re back the three of us, in a room, if only in my heart and imagination. What a wonderful place to be. God gives us the power to imagine, not to deflect ourselves from reality but to delve deeper into reality. It takes us underground into our feelings, our experiences, our past and those influences that have made us who we are.
However, imagination can also take us forward — to envision new possibilities, what could be, the magic of relationships that may have never taken place in a literal sense but when well imagined can infuse our hearts. This is what being with Mom and Trot has done for me today.
It was time to go. I was getting our coats and I heard my mom say something quietly to my son. “How’s your dad doing?” she asked him. “Is he a good dad?” My son looked at her with his large dark eyes and processed that question to the best of his capabilities. “Dee Dee,” he said, “I love my dad.”