Her world had ended.
In a nightmare of twisted metal, with the smell of gasoline on a chilly winter’s night. The phone had rung late that evening. Expecting a call from her son to tell her he was heading home from work, instead a strange voice replied to her cheerful hello.
“Is this Mrs. McCallum?”
“Yes, who is this?” was her immediate reply.
“This is Corporal Bourne. Do you have a son named James McCallum?”
Even two months later she couldn’t recall the rest of the conversation. Only the final result of it. Her handsome, athletic son was gone. Driving too fast on an icy road, his car had gone out of control and spun off the highway, tumbling end over end to finally rest in a nearby field. Days passed, nights passed. Yet the agony was still fresh. Every breath she took ached in her chest, tears threatened constantly. She missed him so much. She found herself sitting on the couch for hours on end.
They say mothers always remember. It’s a curse. She could remember every detail of his life. From the moment she first held him, the first time his baby blue eyes cleared and really looked at her. The fact that he not had a hair on his head until he was two. That his teenaged cousins had spent all one night wondering if he was alive. He spent an entire wedding reception fast asleep in his baby seat on the buffet table. He had slept like his life depended on it.
And the later years, when he’d beg to be swung between his parents, tiny hands tightly wound into theirs. Always yelling ‘Again!’ as they walked hand in hand down the road. His first teetering bike ride in front of the house, the sheer triumph on his face when he managed to go more then a few feet.
The day she made him believe he was magical. James would stand in front of the garage doors, yelling ‘Open Sesame!’ and to his amazement they always opened. She would hide in the bedroom over the garage with the remote, and open the doors every time he yelled. Just to hear him laugh.
There were the tough days as well. When she and his father separated, and James had to learn that money didn’t grow on trees. And she shed more than a few tears than, going without for years just to give him that ‘little bit more.’ She never knew if he understood, but she hoped he did, and she hoped that he would be okay with it.
James got older, and taller, and smarter. In his teenage years, he moved away from being her little boy. But to her, he would always be just that. He moved onto girls, fast cars, and caring more about what his friends opinions were that what hers might be. But she was okay with that, it was part of growing up, so she always told herself. And she still loved him as much as ever. She was content to stand back in the shadows and let him grow into the man she had always hoped he’d be one day.
Then the phone rang.