“Hey, Mimi, I read your book.” I was slightly caught off guard as I began to wonder what prompted my 17-year-old grandson to be reading my book at this time of his life. My mind swirled a bit as I speculated as to where this casual conversation may take us. There was no doubt in my mind which book he was referring to. He did not name it, I just knew. He was referring to, Living On Empty, the one published 23 years ago, the one about my secrets, the one written before he was born, the one about my addiction and eating disorders starting when I was 17-years-old, yes, that one. It was his time to talk with me. I was ready and I gave him the time. It was a first for him and a first for me as he is the first grandchild to come to me after reading my book.
“It was really good and I liked it.” I asked him what he liked about it. He went on to relate how he had not felt as close to me as he used to. He began to notice a distance coming between us as he moved into his teenage years and he was searching for a reason why. He noticed I was not reaching out to him as I used to when he was younger. He was missing me, his Mimi who had loved him so well. My heart sank. His vulnerability was palpable. Mine was on the edge. Yet I remained quiet and listened.
“I feel I have a better understanding of why that happened as I read about your teenage years.” He began to talk about how hard it must have been for me to figure out my life as a teenager. He could identify with my struggle especially as he, too, is one striving to please those around him. He realized what it cost me and what it is costing him.
“I really identified with the parts about your guilt and shame.” It was in this moment that I knew he was entering a sacred space in his heart that was connected to mine. I felt a quiet heaviness as my heart held the gravity of how he spoke about coming before God to confess his sin and seek forgiveness. He was exploring what it would to be like to be open and real with others as I did about my addiction and eating disorder. He saw the value of releasing the power of his secrets and how others could benefit from what he is experiencing in his life. We held the moment as his longing surfaced to be known by God and with me. His defenselessness was tangible. I could see the tears coming from him as mine began to well up in my eyes. I reached out and held him as he fell into my arms.
We cried together and held the sacred space as one belonging to the three of us, as God was there too.
“You are such a wise person, so full of wisdom that is so helpful to me.” My heart began to swell with the overwhelming gratitude of standing before my grandson to witness the goodness of his heart toward me and for God. As I stood transfixed before him I knew God has His eye on him for greatness.
This time with my grandson was redemptive on so many levels. I love how he reached out to me. I love how the legacy of my story has transcended into his. I love how he saw beyond my behavior to focus on the redeeming work of God in my life. I love how he longs for openness for himself. I love how our encounter happened in the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. You see, it was in the bathroom where so much hatred and violence had taken place in my life. Yet on this day there was such kindness and love filling the space for good.
I am smiling. I am hopeful. I am curious as to the more of what life has to hold for my grandson and for me. I truly believe there is more to come…
And there could be more for you too, as you wade into the stories of your own life.
Mary Jane Hamilton loves her life living on Lake Michigan with her husband of 47+ years. It is her family that brings her the greatest joy especially her 6 grandchildren. MJ readily admits that she adores her dachshunds and rests in the comfort they provide. She smiles at life and “rolls with the punches” that are thrown her way. MJ loves Jesus and beauty, MJ loves wind, waves and thunder, MJ loves fashion and good wine, MJ loves…