Freedom. According to Merriam-Webster, freedom is defined as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. It comes in many forms and means something different to all of us. Lately, I have been living vicariously through my second oldest Godson Zackary. Zack is 23 and he is an amazing young man. I don’t mean amazing in a way that only a Godmother would see her Godson but rather, he is amazing in spirit. He is honest, reliable and incredibly free spirited. He is secure enough with himself to grow his hair out, take crap for it and never think twice of someone else’s opinion of him. He lives the life he wants to live and is only concerned with what he and the good Lord think of his decisions.
Like all kids, they rely heavily on us for support. Whether it be food, transportation, finances or to simply cheer them on from the sideline and be there to lift them up after a major loss, we are there every step of the way. As we watch them grow, we are proud of the choices they make and who they are becoming. But at some point, we become less and less of a priority to them and we end up observing their lives after they have moved out on their own. Through the sometimes blurry windows of social media, there are glimpses into their daily lives, friendships and careers. They come home when they can and even occasionally take a call or return a text. For the most part, they are on the forefront of our minds and we are in their back pockets as sort of a safety net when they need us. It is nothing personal, but it is part of the growing pains we feel as a parent (Godparent in this case).We love our kids from a distance and watch the wings we have given them begin to expand.
This past Christmas, instead of watching Zack’s typical life adventures that take him snowboarding, cliff jumping or hopping in his car to go where the wind takes him, he let me know he was coming home for a few days. Zack sneaks in and out as to not upset or disturb the lives of the people he can’t see. This year, I was lucky enough to not only get a text back and a call, but I was able to come face to face with the elusive boy turned man that I am grateful to call family.
Five years have passed since our divorce and like every Christmas Eve, Derek has the kids until 10pm. He brings them to my house and they boys and I are able to wake up and spend Christmas Day together. I was getting ready to go to a friend’s house for a group Christmas Eve dinner when my phone buzzed. I looked down. Zack was on his way! We texted back and forth a few times until his face was finally at my front door. He rang the bell and walked in. Zack standing 5’11 with this dark brown hair grown out to his shoulders, was wearing a giant smile on his face and peaking through his lips were his shiny white teeth. I rushed over and threw my arms around him, squeezing him tightly. Zack, who is not much of a hugger knew the drill… I will not release him from the hug until l get both arms around me. He did what he knew had to and he hugged me back. We made small talk about life and the amazing journey he was on, places he had been visiting and about his love life. We sat outside on the back deck, he took pictures of the water and took in the view, I texted my son, Todd, to let him know Zack was at the house and invited him to come by to see him. As we chatted, laughed, and talked about his future plans, a flash of light bounced off the stone pillars on the deck. I looked behind me and thought I saw a headlight and figured it was my son. Todd and Zack got along pretty well and it was always great when they could get together. As my own kids grew, one ran off to college to play lacrosse in Missouri and the other one went off to school but stayed in Texas and my Godsons, all four of them followed suit. Three took off to play college football in different states and the youngest headed off to serve his mission for two years in Argentina. So, with all the boys scattered, it was a blessing to see all of them together again when possible. It wasn’t a surprise to see that Todd rushed over to see Zach, even if only for a few minutes. A minute or two passed and when Todd didn’t come barreling through the door, I figured it was the neighbors headlight I saw. Zack and I continued our conversation. After a few more minutes, Zack looked up and said “I think someone’s here”.
Weird, I thought. Maybe it was Todd and he was finishing up a call? I was startled when I heard a knock at the door. I looked at Zack and without reason, my heart sank. I looked at the door and through the frosted glass opening, I could a face looking inside. We made our way into the house and towards the door. Zack followed close behind me and I began to make out the figure. Derek? I thought to myself.
“Why is Mr. Stevenson here”? Zack said with slight excitement.
“No idea”. I said.
I thought to myself he must be bringing Joseph, our youngest son, now 15, over early for Christmas Eve, but had no idea why he would do that. As I got closer to the door, I was now convinced it was Derek and I was excited for him to see Zack. As we approached the door we laughed and thought it was a great coincidence that he came by while Zack was visiting. As I opened the door and peeked my head out just a little, my heart, my jaw and my stomach hit the floor. My mouth dried up, chest grew tight and I anxiously locked eyes with Zack. Seconds later, Jake pushed the door open and walked in…