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A Parent's Life: Many Holy Week Moments
Susan Hines-Brigger
Source: St. Anthony Messenger magazine
Published: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
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“Sit with me.” It was a simple request from my seven-year-old son, Alex. He’s always asking me to sit with him when he goes to bed. He’s done it since he was little. For some reason, he just doesn’t like being alone. I never have been able to figure out exactly why he needs me there. I’m not sure if he’s afraid of something or afraid he’s going to miss out on something if I’m not there.

And so I sit. That’s all—no talking, no playing, no lullabye as when he was a baby—just me sitting on his bed in the dark and the sound of his gentle breath as he drifts off to sleep.

Maybe I do it because he’s my middle child and I’ve heard all the stories about middle children feeling slighted. Or maybe it’s because he’s my only son. It can’t be easy having an older and younger sister. Whatever the reason, all I know is I’m compelled to stay there.

Granted, there are plenty of times when I try to convince him and myself that I’m too busy or too tired, times when dishes and laundry seem more important.

“I can’t, buddy. I have to get ready for tomorrow.”

He asks again for just a few minutes of my time. That’s all. Maybe he’s stalling, but on the off chance that he’s not, I agree. What’s a few minutes? I remind myself, and I snuggle in close to him. And I’m always glad I did. Because as I sit there and look at him, I see how he is changing and growing. His chubby little fingers are growing long and lean. A slight whistle escapes his mouth as he exhales through the gap where his front teeth—his baby teeth—used to be. These alone should keep me sitting next to him every night. But they don’t always.

I think of the moments when I don’t relent—when life gets the best of me and I hurry my kids off to bed in order to get on with life’s more mundane chores. And I promise myself that I won’t take these moments for granted, well aware that someday, probably sooner than I’d like, Alex won’t ask me to sit with him.

A Biblical Connection

The scene often makes me think of Holy Thursday and the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus just wanted someone to “sit” with him— not talk, not tell him everything would be all right, just be there. It mattered to him that they were there with him, even if there was nothing they could do. Why else would he ask them, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40) when they fell asleep?

Sitting with Alex also makes me think of all the Easter moments I have experienced as a parent—the Palm Sundays when my husband, Mark, and I first heralded our children’s arrival at birth and the subsequent years we have spent cheering for them simply for being who they are.

Or the many times I washed my kids’ feet when they were babies, counting each toe as I went. And how many times have I stood silently by and watched each of them endure pain—both physical and emotional—at the hands of friends and playmates, wanting to lash out, feeling helpless to take it away? Yes, life as a parent is one long Holy Week.

Being Present

Come to think of it, our whole lives often mirror this most important week in our religion. And in hindsight some of those moments that at the time may have seemed insignificant can become profound memories.

I remember when my friend Teri called to say that her father had cancer. We met at a local park and just sat on a bench, not saying a word. But the fact that we were together is what mattered. Sometimes, the most important thing we can do as parents, children, friends, siblings is simply show up—at a game, a show, a time of need, a funeral, etc.

That’s the beauty of this season. Even though we must endure our share of Holy Weeks and Good Fridays, there is always the promise and hope of those Easter moments to which we can look forward. In the meantime, as we go through life’s many Holy Weeks, let’s remember to be open and present to life’s moments, situations and, most importantly, each other.

During this season of Lent, let’s try to make an extra effort to “show up” for the people around us. It could be our children, parents, siblings, friends, even co-workers. We should take some time and just sit with them.

Ask how they’re doing and then really listen. Clear some space on your calendar and take a walk with your family or go to the park. Reconnect with an old friend. Sit down and ask your parents or grandparents about their lives. Listen to their stories and ask questions.

Me, I’m going to sit with my son as he drifts off to sleep, safe, knowing that his mom is by his side.

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