The Heaviness of Doors

She said that she would forgive. That she doesn’t want anger and bitterness taking up places in her heart where memories of her son should be. She asked if we will light a candle for him on his 17th birthday…next Thursday. And she told all parents that they should hug their children.
This is one thing that we all should do for our children every day; no matter if they’re ornery, whatever they’re going through, she said. You grab your child, even if they’re mad at you, they’ll get over it. Life goes on. You grab your children, you hug them and kiss them and you tell them you love them. If you can’t tell them, you show them.
So that’s what I try to do when I say goodnight to them last night.
The little one is easy—he’s always the cuddly one. He is always the one to tell me he loves me first. But when I cross the hall to his brother’s room, I face a closed door. It feels like the thickest, most impenetrable barrier. Is there any way through this dense wood? I tap lightly.
When there is no response I push in, peek through the crack. There he is: ear buds in, laptop open in front of him.
May I come in?
He closes the laptop, scoots over and makes room for me. I don’t know where to start. He’s wondering with his eyes—newly rimmed. I wonder what he sees.
I rub his back, smooth his hair, grapple for the words. I tell him I love him all the time, but this…this feels different. I want him to know. I need him to know.
Do you know those kids? In Ohio?
It’s a weak start, but he nods. And I tell him what Demetrius Hewlin’s mother said. About forgiveness. About saying the love. And showing it too.
She said to hug your children, I say.
And I wrap my arms around him, breathe in his bedtime smell—all soap and mint and a little bit of him; the way he has smelled his entire life…before deodorant and acne wash and fluoride rinses.
And my head spins at the thought of losing him and I want to tell him what a strange and scary place this is, how the world is full of danger, and look both ways before crossing the street and be on the lookout for trouble, and he…he is studying for his learner’s permit test.  And I see the study book on his bedside table and it just adds another layer of fear.
I want to tell him to be careful. Always.
But when I open my mouth, I am surprised by what comes out.
Life is so beautiful,I say. I’m glad you’re in mine.
And we talk some and he smiles and when I leave through that door, it doesn’t feel quite as heavy as when I opened it. And I make a mental note to keep opening it…to keep walking through it. 
No matter how heavy it seems.


  1. says

    Yes, yes, yes! I have two closed doors now. But I am finding just what you did, that gently knocking, saying kind words when we are let in–those go a long way toward building relationships. And getting the occasional hug.

  2. says

    And that’s what he’ll remember, too, as he grows older–you pushing the door open even with his shoulder to the other side. It says he’s important.

  3. says

    Miss Laura, not saying aloud what our motherly hearts want to scream gives those boys room to live & love in ways that make sense to them. It’s hard.

    This also convicts me of the walls I put around my very own self.


  4. says

    chills. Her forgiveness touched me. Your actions and telling here honor so much: motherhood, opening doors, letting God speak through you in the spoken and the written. What a tender and beautiful telling.

  5. says

    In my life, a door stayed closed last night…but you know what? Today, it opened. Sometimes the weight of those doors represent our hearts.
    He stands at the door and knocks.
    so shall we.

  6. says

    Someone said it’s when they act like they need you least (and especially when they push you away) that you should love on them most. We’re in twelve-land, here. I can’t decide what to think about it, but I know I love the boy.

  7. says

    Ah, love this. Love our boys in all their awkwardness. And the pain of loving and the strong threads that connect us and cut sometimes — it’s all here. What a wise mother who admonishes us to speak the words while we can.

  8. says

    Yes. What perfect words. Wisdom spoke through you, dear Laura.

    I remind myself often that God gives grace when it is needed, but there’s no such thing as hypothetical grace. When I fear what *could* happen, the horror hits full force without His purpose and peace to transform and redeem it.

    The next time fear looms like a thick door threatening to bar hope, perhaps I should face it boldly and declare with you, “Life is so beautiful.”

    Because I’m pretty sure that’s the last thing fear wants to hear. And also because it’s the truth.

    Love to you and your beloveds.

  9. says

    Oh, sometimes the hardest step is through those doors.. wondering if I’m welcome. Remembering how not so long ago I was called in for hugs, bedtime kisses and giggles. Thanks for the reminder that I need to walk through the door that’s closed and close the gap with a hug!

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