Committing the truth through omission

Wrapping gifts for my children. 19 gifts. 4 children. Lots of wrapping. I wrote out the tags in advance for each child, swollen fingers dull to the task. My penmanship is clubbed, blocky. On day +17, the tag for my baby boy reads: "To Cal. Love Mama." No comma. Not "Love from Mama", which is what I *meant* to say. But - "please love me"! Which is the desperate cry of my heart.

Have you ever wounded your baby? Looked deep in their eyes and known that your tone, or your brusque brushing off of their need for you at that moment, or your delay in picking them up to snuggle has just wounded them? Have you heard the bricks of that bridge of trust crashing into the river of their soul? Ever wondered if the bridge will ever be rebuilt, or if a moment of opportunity is lost forever in a sea of wounds they will suffer at the hands of those they love for their 80 mortal years?

I fear that. I know that look, in small ways, from the myriad ways I hurt my children - with and without meaning to - on a daily basis. What I fear now is that my relationship with this tender shoot of young boyhood will be forever changed - even perhaps maimed - by our separation. That closeness will never be regained. That I will come home to a son who does not wish to cling to my shirt necks and stroke my neck skin, bury his hand in the fold between shoulder and chin as we sleep. Please don't reassure me. I know it is entirely possible that he won't hardly notice I'm gone. But the fear whispering around the edges of each task of my day is that he will notice.

That he'll notice forever.

Lord, protect my baby boy. Protect my heart as I leave him. Please let us love in a way deeper and stronger than we do now. That absence will indeed make the heart grow fonder. Don't let this cancer grow like the noxious weed it can be. Don't let it seep in between him and I. I can't bear the pain. I love him. I love you. Amen.