Years ago Lois went to visit her mother for a week. She took the younger children with her and I kept Kyle with me. Kyle was about seven or eight. Chuk would have been about four. We were living in Ohio. I drove Lois and the little ones to Michigan and then Kyle and I drove home. When we got home I told Kyle to go to his room and get ready for bed and I went to the kitchen to fix something to eat. Kyle and Chuk shared a room. A few minutes later Kyle came into the room crying. I said, “What’s wrong, buddy?”
Kyle sobbed; “I went in there and I saw Chuckie’s little pants on the bed and I miss him.” I knelt down and hugged him and we cried together for a minute.
Our Chuk is nineteen, now. He sang in church Sunday “He Leadeth Me” and accompanied himself on his guitar. A few hours later he loaded up the van with his bike and his guitar and his things and he drove away to the north. He will be gone for the summer to be a counselor at Camp Barakel. He has gone with me for years when I have spoken there. Now he is going without me. He has not been away from home for more than a week before.
I am very glad to send him out to serve in such a noble and eternal cause. I am grateful that he is eager to make a difference in the lives of boys and help a good work. I am glad that he is willing to set aside his studies until the fall so that he can learn in a different way. He is only thirty credits away from graduation, but I am glad to see him devote his summer to the ministry.
I am happy, but my heart aches when I think back over the short years we had under the same roof. I took him with me whenever I could. He used to reach out to me when I came into his room when he was a baby. He would beg me to get him out of his bed. My mind is flooded with memories of my son in his baseball uniform pitching or playing short for his team in Fredericktown. I keep listening for his guitar in the next room. I remember the first time he ever walked into the kitchen with his guitar and sang me a song he had been working on for weeks in his room.
This week we went out for coffee and I tried to express how much delight he has brought to my soul. I don’t know if he really understood what I was trying to tell him. Someday when he has to say goodbye to a son of his own maybe then he will understand.
If you call there room the message is in Kyle’s voice; “You’ve reached the room of Kyle and Chuk. Sorry we’re not in. Leave us a message and we will give you a call as soon as we can.” You can leave a message, but there is no one there anymore.
Kyle lives on Michigan’s west coast now. In less than two weeks Kyle and Elizabeth will start a home of their own. Chuk is gone for the summer. If I go into his room and see his things I have to fight back tears. In his empty room tonight is a picture of Kyle, Chuk and I on the west coast of North Manitou Island a few years ago. Kyle gave him the picture and frame for Christmas.
I still have four daughters and two sons at home. Someday I will sit and cry and pray in their empty rooms, but for now they are here for me to love for a short time. I am going to love them with all my heart while I can so when they leave they will leave me with memories that are sweet to my soul.
Riverfront Character Inn
May 29, 2005