The picture of her son was a wallet-sized, high-school portrait from the late sixties. The boy’s hair was painfully dated. His smile was easy.
He was a good kid. That’s what they say.
He and his mother were close. Best friends, even. She was a single mother; he was a mama’s boy.
They were driving home from Atlanta one afternoon. They saw a car stalled on the side of the road.
“Don’t pull over,” she told her teenage son. “We don’t have time. Don’t wanna be late for kickoff.”
In those days, high-school kickoffs ruled the world. Her son was a good fullback. There was even talk about recruitment. Not serious talk, but talk.
Either way, he was a poster child. He had high cheekbones, promise, a sweet girlfriend, good grades.
“I gotta pull over, Mama,” he said.
He veered to the shoulder. He stepped out to help an old man change a tire.
She didn’t actually see it happen. But she heard the old man shout, “Move!”
And out of the corner of her eye, she saw the man jump. Then, a crash. Skidding.
And her boy was gone.
The days that followed were the worst of her life. Not only because he was gone, but because a piece of her had been buried, too.
Someone once heard her say, “I asked God to take me on the day of his funeral. I wanted to give up living.”
But God didn’t take her.
One sunny day, a knock at her door. Her son’s girlfriend. They sat at a table together. They cried big tears. They looked at photos. They held one another.
The girl told her she was pregnant.
And I understand that his mother’s happiness outweighed sadness.
The pregnancy was a normal, joyful one. Still, for each “congratulations” someone offered, an “I’m so sorry” followed.
But babies are immune to sadness. They make people feel warm, no matter what the outside temperature.
The child turned a plain hospital room into all smiles. And when his granny held him, they say she wouldn’t let go for two days.
The boy spent his childhood at Granny’s. And Granny helped raise him—in many ways, she was Mother as much as Grandmother.
Over the years, she told stories about the boy’s father. About a hero.
In fact, she wrote her stories down in a notebook so her grandson would always have them. It took a year to finish writing.
The last story in her notes was a lot like the one I just told you. A teenage Good Samaritan, a long drive home.
They say she went easy. She was fortunate not to suffer long.
Her grandson made copies of a tattered notebook. He kept the new copies and placed the original in her casket—along with a black-and-white senior portrait.
They say before she left, she was not scared. Not even a little.
“I’ve waited a long time to see my Danny again,” said the old woman.
Today she’s with her boy.
And what a grand day in heaven it must be.
Catherine - September 20, 2017 1:05 pm
A grand day indeed!
Micha Abrams - September 21, 2017 1:48 am
Very nice story Sean. Goosebumps.
Betty Jo - September 20, 2017 1:06 pm
Now you went and made my eyes leak!
Beckie johnson - September 20, 2017 1:08 pm
I love how you know the whole story, not just the saddest part. Reminds me of a Bible verse I learned a long time ago: “Weeping may last for a night, but joy comets in the morning.” Keep up the stories. I love them!
Gwen McGill - September 20, 2017 1:36 pm
My heart just broke and then I felt the joy.
Linda Bailey - September 20, 2017 1:43 pm
I too had to bury my young and only son. It’s true a little piece of you dies that day. You’re never the same person
TN Lizzie - September 20, 2017 3:33 pm
Oh, Linda. I am so sorry. May you find a once-forgotten blessing today as you remember your son.
Marty from Alabama - September 21, 2017 2:01 am
My sweet grandmother buried her only son. Shortly after that she buried her husband and not that many years later, she buried her oldest daughter. She came to visit me in the hospital when I lost a baby due to a miscarriage. You know what she said to me? “I can’t imagine how this must feel to you.” The sweetest woman ever to live. She had lost three of her most prized possessions.
Laura - September 20, 2017 1:49 pm
Wonderful story- I am afraid I need a quart of water to offset the lost tears.
Robert Allen - September 20, 2017 1:57 pm
Have not read one of Sean’s Stories that was not exceptional however this is perhaps the best…..For now.
Melanie Howell - September 20, 2017 2:02 pm
Oh Sean! That was a heart wrenched!
Sandra Marrar - September 20, 2017 2:52 pm
Another tear jerker…
Jack Quanstrum - September 20, 2017 3:58 pm
Very sobering story. What real life is all about. When you get older the losses pile up. I look forward to seeing my brother, mother , sister. father and my best friend who died in his thities.
teachenglish67 - September 20, 2017 4:49 pm
This account brought me to sobs. I can only imagine her pain as she waited to join him. Thank you for another reading blessing, Sean.
Dolores Fort - September 20, 2017 4:52 pm
You did it again, Sean!
Wendy - September 20, 2017 5:54 pm
Karen Champion - September 20, 2017 10:22 pm
I lost my son last year. I will never be “over it” until I get to join him in heaven. He left a wife and 2 year old son. We keep our grandson every weekend and don’t know what we would do without him.
Connie Burt - September 20, 2017 11:09 pm
Sean! Your stories reach in so deep into my soul!!!! Thank you!
Leslie Ballard - September 21, 2017 12:47 am
Thank you… again.
unkle - September 21, 2017 2:44 am
Watched my sister’s only daughter slip away in a moment that lasted three months after the diagnosis.My stepdaughter in five short days , a cough Monday by Friday she had slipped away to Heaven. The moms will suffer till the longing in their hearts is fufilled and they are reunited with their babies. Time only measures the dash on our headstones between born-died . Make that dash count. Tell my mom I miss here if you get there before me.
Pamela McEachern - September 21, 2017 7:43 am
I read this earlier today and it has been on my mind and in my heart, not knowing what to say
To all the families that have suffered a loss of a child no matter how it happened, it is to me the most horrific loss to endure. How beautiful the joy she must have felt to hold her grandson until she was able to hold her son once again. God blesses us with this promise of eternal life. Thank you Sean, let’s all hold our loved ones alittle tighter.
JANE HUMPHREY - September 21, 2017 3:25 pm
Just beautiful….brought happy tears to my eyes.
anthonykorey - September 21, 2017 9:14 pm
OMG!!! What a precious story. You are not only a story teller, an author ; but also a man of significance.
God bless you, my dear friend
Melodie - September 28, 2017 5:53 pm
My Paul is my pride and joy. You could say somewhat of a Mama’s boy, even though he is a grown man, now. He calls me, Mama, the most beautiful four letter word in the English dictionary. I just can NOT imagine what this poor mama went through or how she even endured such a tragedy. Well, Faith, and the love for God goes a long way, and knowing they are reunited, now. God gave her and the young girl that baby for a reason. Never give up Hope! ♥
Deborah - October 31, 2017 9:38 am
You commemorate the ordinary in beautiful words.
Jane Burt - October 31, 2017 1:02 pm
Sad story told so well! Heart aches?
Ronnie Hamilton - October 31, 2017 3:06 pm
Tears are helping ease the ache that fills my heart
Tammy Shiver - October 31, 2017 9:38 pm
Yes I am Wearing That Lady’s Shoes! I Miss My Son Daniel So Very Much!
Gale Smith - January 29, 2019 12:00 pm
Our loss, Heaven’s gain…..both of them.
Cece Garrison - January 29, 2019 1:39 pm
Thank you for reminding me what’s important in this world.
Barbara - January 29, 2019 5:25 pm
Our oldest son left us nearly 10 years ago. I can’t believe I can still walk, talk, breathe. I don’t remember much of the year after. He left 2 boys. 11and 17. The 11year old will finish a 2year college in May. The 17 year old is in jail, headed to prison next month. We all behaved differently. John’s brother is an alcoholic. My husband and I have muddled through it. Not whole. Through it. God have mercy.
unkle Kenny - January 30, 2019 4:13 am
As I read this again it takes me back in time . What I felt then is still true today . Peace to all who are left with memories of the departed. uk