In the picture he is about five years old. His smile is bold as he looks straight into the camera. The look on his face is mischievous. He’s wearing a paper cutout hat of a pilgrim and the setting is a classroom- clearly just prior to Thanksgiving. The picture was taken yesterday, or so it seems. In a flash the picture is gone and for the next six months so is he.
My computer’s screen saver is set to cycle through a couple thousand old pictures that I recently uploaded. The picture of which I speak is of one of my sons- Janni. It particularly caught my eye because just minutes before I had been speaking to him on the phone. At the conclusion of the call I had to say goodbye to him for the last time before he boards a plane to fly to Iraq- for Janni is a United States Marine and Marines do such things.
Seeing that photo flash on the screen just caused me to sit back for a moment in wonderment at how fast and fleeting our lives truly are. Just yesterday we adopted him from Romania when he was three years old. Just yesterday this little kid with long black hair and big brown eyes entered our lives. Wasn’t it just yesterday when at about the age of ten he announced that he wanted to be a Marine? Wasn’t it just yesterday when we struggled with his difficult teenage years? A struggle that I think both sides wish could be replayed. Wasn’t it just yesterday when we proudly watched him graduate from Boot Camp at Parris Island?
Yet here I now sit in the dark with cause to wonder about what was and what could have been. To wonder what is and what will someday be. My brain is filled with a plethora of competing thoughts being played out like some sort of disjointed symphony. Happy thoughts, sad thoughts, both dark and optimistic thoughts all battling for control of my attention at once. I have long since given up on the illusion that I truly know or control anything. It is upon that reality that that I must cling tonight.
Tonight Jack and I toast you Janni. May you feel the love of your family and the love of God during these next six months- and forever thereafter.