The alarm clock pronounced itself at 5:30 a.m. on the nose. I rolled over in the dark and reached toward the direction of the offensive sound to stop its attack. I didn't need to leave until 6:30 to make it to the gym for a quick run and then get to work on time. Lisa began to stir a bit.
"Are you going to the gym?" she asked.
"I would like to since I haven't been in three days, but I guess it depends on how Luke feels," I said.
I knew if he really were sick, he would need to go to my parent's house to spend the day while my wife took the others to school. This contingency would mean no exercise for me. I could feel my waistline continuing its relentless expansion second by second. I resisted the urge to quietly enter his room, jostle him awake briefly, and return to my wife with the story of how he seemed fine and how I should safely be on my way. I can't say I haven't tried it before, however.
I quickly ate a banana and brushed my teeth. Finally, I went into his room about 6:20 to begin the investigation. He was already awake.
"Bad sign," I thought to myself. I asked him anyway. "Luke, are you awake?" His response would serve as the first piece of evidence.
"Yes," he coughed through nasal congestion and what sounded like a raw, scratchy throat.
"How do you feel?" I continued.
"Not too good, Daddy, not too good," he said shifting his eyes my way, but carefully avoiding any quick movements with his head.
Repetition was bad sign too. I felt his cheeks and forehead. They confirmed my fears.
"Where do you feel bad, son?" I asked.
"All over," he halfway choked out in response. And so, I decided on the nuclear option.
"You know you'll miss your baseball game tomorrow night if you're sick, right? I hoped thrusting the potential loss of a game smack dab in front of him would serve as the magic elixir hastening a speedy recovery. It was cruel. It was unnecessary. It didn't work. Tears began to fall.
"He really is sick," I thought to myself. I felt a twinge of regret, but sympathy never has been one of my gifts.
"Well, go on and get dressed, brush your teeth and then lay back down until we're ready to go. I'll take you to your grandmother's for the day."
I left his room perturbed and irritated. I kept thinking about how his brother's sickness had rearranged our schedules all of last week and how this one was beginning the same.
The others finally departed for school, leaving me and Luke there alone together. We spoke few words between us until it was time to go. He sighed and moaned the whole way to the door, slowly sliding his feet as if his shoes were heavy bricks.
"Luke, you need to get moving, son," I barked. "I need to get you to momma's and then to work on time," I continued. He offered nothing in response, but kept walking.
He sat up front beside me in the car, which I'm sure violated one of those seat belt, air-bag, cell-phone laws, but it was the only way he could recline and get some relief. I rolled the dice and took my chances.
Tension filled the car's atmosphere. I kept thinking about losing my workout time and the calories quietly converting themselves to heinous fat globules destined for my mid-section. I'm not sure what he was thinking. I turned the music up just enough to hear the words and melody, but not enough to offend his sickness induced, sensitive ear drums.
It escaped me. I resisted. Something was holding me back. I wouldn't give him what he wanted because there was too much of me to get through. Why was it so hard to dispense? This child, most like his father, proved the hardest for me to gently love.
Then, I heard the words. The words to the song barely audible in the background stuck me hard. "Who am I, that you might know me my King?"
I awkwardly reached for his leg, nearly missing it completely. "How are you feeling now?" I asked. His leg was too far, so I rubbed his shoulder instead. He seemed almost startled.
"About the same," he responded.
"Maybe you'll be good enough to play tomorrow night," I said. "You've got a couple of days to get better." The corner of his lipped moved up ever so slightly.
"You think so, Daddy?"
"I hope so, son. I really hope so." It wasn't much, but it was all I was willing to give.
I dropped him off and left for work. I replayed that same song the whole way there. I tried saying a prayer, but the words just didn't come out right. I wanted forgiveness. I wanted mercy. From my Heavenly Father, I asked for the same gentleness I had earlier refused to give my own son.
I sure hope God was listening better than me.
Philippians 4:5 NIV
Let your gentleness be evident to all...
Colossians 3:12 NIV
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
P.S.-When I talked with my wife this evening she told me Luke mentioned that I had employed the nuclear option. He told her he knew I was trying to get him to go to school and figure out how sick he really was....guess the apple has fallen painfully close to the tree.