Jack got his driver’s license on Wednesday – March 16th at approximately 3:00 pm.
While Jack took his driving test – I stood next to the building at Bowman Field and did what I do best. I knit and I prayed. (You thought I was going to say – I knit and I talked – didn’t you?) With each stitch I knit – I prayed for our oldest boy (who – I know – is now a man). “Please Lord be with him. Please Lord watch over our Jack. Please Lord keep our beloved boy safe. Lord hold Jack in the palm of your hand. Please Lord be with him. Lord shelter him. Lord be his rock and refuge in this crazy world. Lord be Jack’s stronghold.”
I prayed without ceasing for my boy. Our boy who arrived on a hot August night in Fergus Falls, MN while the northern lights flashed their brilliant green light across the dark sky. Our son who has become a man so very quickly. Our boy who has grown so tall and so wise. Our boy who leaves for college in the fall. Our boy who drives cars and plans to be a vet and knows so many things I don’t know and is just plain nifty.
I prayed without ceasing for this man who I love so very much.
I wasn’t just praying about the test. I know the driving test was a HUGE deal to Jack. (I was excited for him – truly I was.) I hoped Jack would pass the driving test on the first try. Jack had been practicing his parallel parking and can parallel park like a master. (I cannot! This is just one of those things Jack knows that his mom does not know . . .)
You see – I was praying for what would come next. For life as a licensed driver. For life out in the WORLD. For life on the roads without his dad or his mom in the passenger’s seat. For Jack’s life with other drivers. For protection from speeding cars and fast moving traffic and careless – thoughtless folks who don’t love him the way his special people do. For life in the REAL world.
I have been out there in the world. I know what it is like. It isn’t always a safe – welcoming place. Especially on the roads!
So our Jack took his test and I knit and I prayed.
And then they were done. Jack and his driving evaluator were back.
As the driving evaluator gentleman walked by me – he said – “John passed. John did a good job. Your son is a good driver.” (Yeah – we named him John – but the John still throws me sometimes too!)
I kept my Amen – Whoo-hoo – and Hallelujah to myself. But I thought them REALLY loudly. I also did a boogie dance and an Irish jig in my heart. On the outside – I just looked slightly eccentric with my knitting and my wildly embroidered jeans. But on the inside – I was having Palm Sunday parade of jubilation and an early Saint Patrick’s Day Parade too. I was thrilled. Jason and I had achieved freedom! Freedom! FREEDOM!!! Oops – I mean JACK had achieved freedom! Freedom! FREEDOM!!! That’s right – Jack . . . This isn’t about Kerri and Jason. It is about Jack.
I took the driving evaluator’s comments as high praise. After all – these comments had come from a man with some serious frown lines who had just 30 minutes before stalked into the testing office declaring that his last driver had blatantly and knowingly lied to him. “Oh great” – I had thought – “Jack’s driving test evaluator is in a bad mood.” (Cue ominous music here . . .)
But – Jack passed his test! Jack got his license and we gleefully texted Jason and Caitlyn the super-duper good news before heading home. Jack drove and I knit. Nice arrangement!
Jack celebrated by driving HIMSELF to go rock climbing with his buddies in his car. I celebrated by going to a Worship and Music Committee meeting. Jason celebrated by NOT driving anyone anywhere! Will celebrated by being stupendously proud of his big brother.
On Saint Patrick’s Day bright and not quite as early as usual – Jack drove himself to duPont-Manual for the very first time. Driving would mean leaving for school at 6:45 AM rather than 6:06 AM when the bus drives by our cul-de-sac. More sleep – awesome! Perhaps another Amen – Whoo-hoo – and Hallelujah were called for. . .
Jack sent a text letting us know he had arrived safely and with time to spare. The commute from Fern Creek to duPont-Manual can get intense – even for an experienced driver. So another – prayer of thanksgiving. And an exhale. He did it!
Then Jason and I went about our Saint Patrick’s Days. We wore our green. We worked. We enjoyed the spring weather by going for a walk during our lunch break. We worked some more.
At precisely 3:10 PM – the following text arrived on the McFarland parents’ phones – “I just got into a car accident, I’m okay. But my car is not drivable.”
NO! No! NO! No! NO! No! NO! No! NO! No! NO! No! NO! No! NO! No! NO! No! Nope! Just NO!
While my brain was still attempting to comprehend/absorb the text – my phone started to ring. It was Jack. Our boy . . .
“Mom – it wasn’t my fault. I didn’t cause the accident. I didn’t do anything wrong. He hit me.” – our beloved son declared before I could say more than – “Jack – it’s Mom.”
“Where are you? Are you really okay? We love you! We are coming! We love you so much. You’ve got this. We love you.” This is what I told our boy – declared to my son – to our child. That is what needed to be said.
Year’s ago when I was a much younger woman – my car’s engine blew on the interstate in southern Wisconsin. I was terrified and alone. I was far from home and my fiancé. I called home to my parents. I called seeking comfort and solace and support BUT my mom did not ask me how I was. My mom did not tell me she loved me. My mom did not care about me or my heart. Instead – she declared – “how could you do this to us . . . ?!?!?!?” Seriously – “HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US?” (That is a summary of my childhood and my life with my mom . . . )
And so I vowed (26 years ago) – NO – NEVER to be so heartless – so cruel – so selfish – so cold. No. I would be different. Better. I would profess love. I would have compassion and empathy. “I love you. Are you okay? We are coming! Dad is on his way! You’ve got this. You are loved.”
Jason went. I stayed. The littlest McFarland was due to get off the school bus. Someone needed to welcome him home warmly too.
It was not Jack’s fault. The man who hit Jack was driving thoughtlessly – carelessly – wildly – recklessly. This and I am quoting here – “was the first time he had caused an accident that didn’t involve injuries . . .” What?!?!?!?!?!? Seriously – time to take a driving class. Or how about riding a bike or the bus? (Just a thought.)
Jack’s cute car is totaled. The car will never be driven again. 24 hours of freedom and our boy’s wings have been clipped until we can jump through all of the insurance hoops and over the hurdles and locate another car.
Thankfully – Jack has a wonderful – trusted friend who is really good at this car stuff because none of the McFarlands are! (Waves at Matt Doyle and says – thank you – wise and talented car sage!)
The car was broken – but Jack is okay. When the other car smashed and crashed into his car – the seatbelts locked. The airbags deployed. The heavy camera lens flew into the windshield and not into Jack. No one was broken. Jack will drive again (he already is).
The broken – battered – sad car sits in front of our house. Every time I see it – my breath catches. My son was in that broken car when it was broken. My boy – our boy . . .
And I pray – “thank you Jesus. Thank you for Jack. Thank you for all he has taught me and will teach me. Thank you for his beauty and wisdom. Thank you for the joy he brings. Thank you. Just thank you!”
And I pray – “Please Lord be with him. Please Lord watch over our Jack. Please Lord keep our beloved boy safe. Lord hold Jack in the palm of your hand. Please Lord be with him. Lord shelter him. Lord be his rock and refuge in this crazy world. Lord be Jack’s stronghold.” And please Lord do all of these things for Jack’s baby brother too . . .
This isn’t the blog post I expected to write – but Jack is okay and for this we give thanks!