Sunday, May 24, 2015

Car Rides

Some of my favorite time spent with the kids as they grew up was when I was driving them to school or activities or picking them up from a sleepover at a friend’s house.  Sometimes they were quiet as they snuck in a few extra minutes of sleep in the early morning before school or enjoyed a few moments of solitude after a busy soccer, dance, football or cheer practice.  Most of the time, we talked about their plans for the day, experiences that happened during the day or worries about an upcoming test or friendship.
Car rides sometime even involve ice cream! 

There were silly times when the girls and I played a musical guessing game while listening to the local pop radio station.  I did surprisingly well considering I am (1) not musically inclined in the least and (2) listening to music the girls knew much better than I did. 

There were serious times, too, such as driving to school, listening to the radio and hearing the chaotic news accounts come in about planes crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (and as we later learned, a field in Pennsylvania). Silence, fear, tears, concern and empathy filled the car that September 11 morning.

When the kids were able to drive on their own, my main thought was concern for their safety. A close second was missing my time with them.  Hearing their stories, car singing (off-key, of course and grabbing whatever object was available to use as a microphone), listening to their worries about the future, car dancing and just being together made my heart happy (and I like to think theirs, as well).

There is something about the enclosed space of a car while traveling that presents opportunities to nourish relationships. 

While not quite the same, I spend time with Robert driving him to appointments and his Day Program. Robert is not one to talk much while in the car as he enjoys working on his word search puzzle. I might try to start a conversation with him about his day or what puzzle he is working on but he is not one to engage in car dancing or elaborate conversations. 

Until recently.

One morning while I drove him to Day Program, Robert worked on his puzzle book as usual.  Without prompting, Robert looked up from his book and began to retell the story of how he almost drowned when he was 16 years old.  I heard the same details I always do when he tells this story: he had dinner with a friend then went out to the apartment pool with his friend and our Dad.  Dad was in his “working clothes” (a suit).  Robert tells this story almost verbatim when he repeats it from time to time.

“I stood at the deep end of the pool and was about to dive in when a seizure hit. I was at the bottom of the pool and Dad dove in to get me and my friend called the paramedics. I was in a coma for three days. God spoke to me and told me he wasn’t done with me yet and it wasn’t time to go yet. God will tell me when it’s time to go.”

I wondered why Robert wanted to tell me this story again on the way to Day Program and decided to ask him questions about the story I have already heard dozens of times.

When God spoke to you did you see him or just hear him?

“I didn’t see Him.  I heard God.”

Are you afraid of dying?

“No. I am not afraid to die.”

Well, when you die you’ll get to see Mom and Dad. 

“I don’t think I will see Mom or Dad.  They weren’t Christians.” 

Taken aback, I said they were Christians and both went to church.  I assured him he would see Mom and Dad.

“I didn’t know Mom was a Christian.” 

Yes, she was but no matter what you will still see her.

“Maybe I will see Mom then.”

I’m sure you will see Dad, too.  He believed in God but just didn’t go to church very often. People don’t have to go to church to believe in God. 

“Dad didn’t act like a Christian.”

Well, you got me there. 

Time to change the direction of this conversation.

Do you think God will talk to you again? 

“He will tell me when it is time to come.  I got a special blessing from God with that.”

Will you be able to see God after you die? 

“I will be able to see God right away when it is my time to come.”

Car rides.  A simple car ride has given me a small glimpse into Robert’s matter-of-fact religious beliefs and the comfort of knowing Robert will be at peace when it is his “time to come.” 

I wonder what the next car ride will bring.