My Son: Holding Tight, Not Letting Go

He fidgets. We wait. He jumps up, runs over to the machine and looks all herky-jerky, happy, just wanting to play with one of those toys they give to kids. You know the toys, right? They’re packed into this glass case, and a kid deposits a fake coins into the dispenser after he gets done with the pediatrician.  In the old days, we got lollipops for our troubles, but modern kids, they’re all obese, or heading that way, so they get these cheap toys. Or so they say.

I look in the mirror and I see a fat woman and for the life of me, she won’t seem to go away. Stop, El. This isn’t thinking. It’s abuse, another form of it, and deep down, you don’t want that anymore.


  “Mom! I want this one! The jelly-wiggle!” He grins, all dimples and elbows, and dances around, in a circle, each hand raised with index fingers wagging toward the ceiling. When he dances like this, his face breaks into sharp angles that accentuate his Eastern-European chin dimple, which is, I just learned, caused by some strange genetic malformation of the chin bones. My husband has it. So did Kirk Douglas, and so does his son. The funny thing about this chin dimple is it makes a man look incredibly handsome.

It’s funny, isn’t it? The things that are malformed, not right, a little off, unique, can be the things that make a man, a boy, most loved. I always was taken with a chin dimple, and the fact that it’s a mistake, a genetic error, makes me even fonder of it.

“Shh,” we whisper. “Calm down, love.” He runs back and sits next to my husband, who wears a dark gray suit. Before I can count to ten, he jumps back up again, and stares, intense, eyes narrowed, at the jelly wiggler toy.


She leaned over and scribbled something on his chart. I squinted. 160/102. No. The muscles around her eyes flexed and then she let go, and as her eye muscles retracted, she undid the blood pressure cuff, all the while speaking to my son. Rip, it went, and it sounded so loud in that coffin-quiet office with the pictures of our aging doctor and her three sons on the walls, and I leaned over and shut the office door.

“160/100,” I whispered to my husband, who was watching Dr. M while I held onto my tiny creature, not so tiny now, but in my mind’s eye, I see him as a baby.


“Mama, was I this big?” He asks, holding his arms about a foot apart.

            I grin.

            He grins, and the grin is as big as his face. “The size of a football?”

            “Yeah,” I nod.

            “I could fit inside a football?” The light dances inside his eyes.

            “Yep.” Now I smile back at him. “That big. No bigger.”

She ripped off the elastic that makes the cuff grip his right arm so tight, and wheeled around, writing something down in his chart. It’s a thick chart for a six-year old. After all, we always joke, he’s our medical scare baby. When I was pregnant with Maddie, I got laser surgery on my eyes, and with those surgically-repaired eyes squinting, I could read her handwriting. 160/100.

It passed quickly. The appointment, I mean. But how fast will this pass? How fast will he pass?

Just a few days ago, he stood in front of the fridge in a Cambray button down shirt and baggy khakis, all serious and tiny, and in my mind’s eye, with both eyes fixed on all fifty-two pounds of him, I saw him as a fifteen or sixteen year old. He was tall and lanky and searching for a glass of water. For some reason, I often see him projected, his tiny form onto his future form, older, taller, a vision, a future ghost of the man he is becoming. It always makes me smile, he always makes me smile, this little boy of mine, this unique, quirky, challenging imperfect child, this sunshine, my sunshine, and I know I can hold on only for so long.

I never wondered if God was giving me this vision to comfort me, to let me know what this youngest son could have been, because he was no longer to be. But it’s weird, because I never see my other two children as older versions of their little selves. Just the baby of the family, my baby, this dimpled man-child of mine. Is God sending him to me, this future man, as a message, as a reminder, a letter of love and comfort and a promise that he will make it through this okay? Or is God reminding me to hold tight, so tight, because his time here is fast fading, fading?


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  1. #1 by Tori Nelson on January 9, 2013 - 10:17 am

    Oh. Mother. This could not possibly be more perfectly written. The honest fear of a mother that I feel all too often. Just when I get a grip on this parenting thing, I’m supposed to let go. Still haven’t reconciled that idea.

    • #2 by Running from Hell with El on January 10, 2013 - 8:39 am

      Thank you so very much Tori. And I know: as soon as we learn whatever lesson we need to learn, it seems like another, even harder one, comes down the pike.

  2. #3 by Lisha @ The Lucky Mom on January 9, 2013 - 11:41 am

    Oh, my El. The Greatest Fear.

    We shouldn’t wonder why God gives us these things, as if we were meant to understand His wisdom. Just take it for what it is, the greatest view of all. The view through a mother’s eyes. Each day is a gift. And we have no way of knowing how many more days there will be. We do our best, we plow through some days, revel in others. That is what life is.

    • #4 by Running from Hell with El on January 10, 2013 - 8:40 am

      It is, Lisha–it is the greatest fear. Amen to everything else you wrote, and thank you so much for your wise thoughts.

  3. #5 by hangingoutandin on January 9, 2013 - 1:18 pm

    This ripped the mother’s heart right from my breast. I’ve had these times with a child of mine. I’m praying fervently for your family, El, but I DO believe the images you are having of his future are JUST that — his future! “…I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” ~Jeremiah 29:11 MSG

    Sending hugs and much love with countless prayers to the God Who Loves You!

    • #6 by Running from Hell with El on January 10, 2013 - 8:51 am

      Thank you thank you so much, my friend, for your kind comments, your hugs, your love and your prayers! xoxo

  4. #7 by Elyse on January 9, 2013 - 2:05 pm

    Oh El. The tears are flowing, as are prayers and good karma. Please keep letting us know how things are going.

    With huge hugs,

    • #8 by Running from Hell with El on January 10, 2013 - 8:52 am

      Thank you so very much Elyse. And I will . . . for now, I am going to try to stay off too many blogs because I can’t seem to string together a meaningful sentence, so please forgive me if I’m not visiting too much. Hugs back atcha.

  5. #9 by cydmadsen on January 9, 2013 - 11:00 pm

    El, I had no idea you were going through difficulties with your son’s health. My heart goes out to you and my admiration as well. Our children are so precious to us, and any possible threat to them knocks us for a loop. Prayers for you and your family.

    • #10 by Running from Hell with El on January 10, 2013 - 9:06 am

      Thank you so very much Cyd. And yes, yes, truly they are precious. Thank you so much for the prayers, hun.

  6. #11 by justanotherwakeupcall on January 10, 2013 - 2:53 am

    Gosh! this brought tears to my eyes. I won’t say I know what you’re going through, cause there is no way I can. This has to be any parent’s nightmare. I pray with all my heart your son pulls through and as as ‘hangingoutanding’ says the images you see turn out to be images of his future. God bless your family

  7. #13 by Valentine Logar on January 10, 2013 - 5:22 am

    El my heart stops and my breath stops. There are no words, only these; here if you need me. Lifting you and all your loved ones up to light and holding you tight in my heart.

  8. #15 by maryjquitecontrary on January 10, 2013 - 7:24 am

    Every fear I ever had when mine were little is contained in this. Lovely and scary.

  9. #17 by simplytrece on January 10, 2013 - 1:59 pm

    Praying a hedge of protection and safety around your boy, and asking God to surround you with peace. I have had several scares with my oldest. I never got peace until I acknowledged that God loves her more than I ever could, and that He knows best. Doesn’t mean I don’t still freak out. Love you, girl.

    • #18 by Running from Hell with El on January 13, 2013 - 3:25 pm

      Thank you many times over, Trece, for the prayers and for the insight. I just keep thinking that God knows what He’s doing much better than I do, and that I just need to trust and go along for the ride. Smiling–but yep, I still freak out a bit! Love you!

  10. #19 by singleworkingmomswm on January 10, 2013 - 4:05 pm

    Thinking of you, El. This was such a touching and beautifully expressed post. Many prayers of healing for your son and prayers of continued strength for you and your family. XOXO

  11. #21 by My Inner Chick on January 10, 2013 - 7:08 pm

    You. Are. Beautiful.

    And your words soak thru my bones.

    Xxxx LOVE.

  12. #23 by Dangerous Linda on January 13, 2013 - 2:06 pm

    My favorite: “It’s funny, isn’t it? The things that are malformed, not right, a little off, unique, can be the things that make a man, a boy, […any person or thing…] most loved.”

    I’m intrigued by your story. Thank you for sharing!

  13. #25 by Kourtney Heintz on January 13, 2013 - 2:25 pm

    El, I am so sorry for all the scares you are having and have had. You have captured it here. Your words are soaked in a mother’s love and concern. I am sending lots of positive thoughts and prayers for your son and you.

  14. #27 by whencrazymeetsexhaustion on January 14, 2013 - 9:28 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes. I “saw” your son in front of the fridge, standing much like mine does, wanting him to stay little and healthy forever for you. I think I’m late to the party, but is he okay? Not trying to pry, but I will surely pray!

    • #28 by Running from Hell with El on January 19, 2013 - 1:08 pm

      Oh my gosh, hun, thank you. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner! We’re still searching for a diagnosis and a cure, so please keep those prayers coming!

  15. #29 by renée a. schuls-jacobson on January 19, 2013 - 1:03 am

    El! My heart is aching for your sweet boy. I know he is your love and he gives you so much inspiration. I am thinking of you. Please please please keep me posted.

  16. #31 by Island Traveler on January 21, 2013 - 5:30 pm

    Parenthood scares me but at the same time strengthens me. It helps me to feel and care more but at the same time it makes me vulnerable to hurts and heartaches. It helps me see God’s blessings and see life as something to be grateful about. These words holds true for me everyday as I watch my little boy grow so fast, “Is God sending him to me, this future man, as a message, as a reminder, a letter of love and comfort and a promise that he will make it through this okay? Or is God reminding me to hold tight, so tight, because his time here is fast fading, fading?” Thus, I have to remind myself that no matter how busy work and life is, I should never miss the priceless milestones of my son, because before I realized it, that magical childhood that brought me happiness will pass. Great post!

  17. #32 by Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom) on January 22, 2013 - 12:14 pm

    El, I’m back reading now on your blog. So so sorry. I just wrote this to another friend last night (who’s child was admitted to the children’s hospital): utopia is where no child gets seriously ill. May he get better soon!

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