At the checkout in the grocery store, the boy who was buying the apple beer – there was something about him that made me want to know him. Maybe he reminded me a bit of my own son. His playful demeanor and winsome smile drew me to engage him in conversation.
Since I don’t regularly drink beer, and actually I haven’t for such a long time that I didn’t even know that beer could have a flavor other than, well . . . beer.
I’ve seen the advertisements in magazines, on the posters outside of the grocery store. Vanilla Beer. Apple Beer. Peach, raspberry, chocolate, coffee, and upon googling it just now, I found there is even beard beer. [Yes, you read that right-and if you click over to read the description you will find that they even use -ohmygoodness- bull testicles in modern craft beer making!]
Back to the boy . . .
I’m curious and I ask him, “Does it really taste like apple?”
He said “It’s good, but you have to take a drink after you open it and then add vodka to it. It’s just not strong enough to get drunk.”
I smiled at the boy, wanting to mother him, remembering that it was the assumed goal of cracking open a Miller Light when I was 19, and I told him he didn’t need to get drunk.
He smiled back, amused that I’d be his mommy-in-the-moment.
After I paid for my groceries, I headed out to the car and he was just getting into his, parked a two spaces beyond mine. He smiled at me again, as he heard this mother tell him, “Please stay safe!”
Thirty years earlier I could have been a friend in that car going the same place he was going. To party with my friends, and likely laughing about that lady in the grocery store who presumed to act as my mother.
And I prayed for him as I saw him drive off. That God would keep him safe. Save him Lord. That he would know he is made for so much more than a temporary high that often ends in puking your guts out. Or nearly dying from embarrassment when you remember your antics from the night before. [Yes, I am speaking from experience.]
And sometimes, worse than dying from humiliation, there is really, truly dying.
We never think it will be us . . .
Just three nights before I surrogate-mothered this boy buying apple beer and vodka, I was at the visitation of a 20 year old boy who, after leaving the bars in his college town somehow drown in the river.
He wasn’t reported missing until the third day. I cannot tell you how my soul grieves.
My husband and I drank beer with his father when we were too young to be drinking.
In 1987 [or maybe ’88], I was bar hopping with a friend in the same town that Robby drowned.
After the bars closed in River Falls, we drove to Beldenville where they stayed open until 2:00 am. It was what my girlfriends and their friends did in R.F. [that’s what we called it] on the weekends. On the way home from Beldenville, my friend lost control on a curve and we rolled into the ditch, her body landing on top of mine. I stood on my door and helped her climb out of hers . . . then I jumped down into the ditch . . . her family came for us.
It was a sobering experience. My friend’s mom took us to the hospital in the morning to get checked out. God’s grace kept us from harm other than my bruises. Her mom talked about God that day. The gift of a mother who loves . . .
That world I once lived in seems so far away now. It was a world of carelessness. Of living for the moment.
I keep finding myself wondering why I lived through those days and others don’t. Only God knows. As I have been in prayer for this young man’s friends and family, in my own grief, and in lieu of the barrage of river drownings of drunk college students: [from the article linked above]
“Sontag’s death is one of several which have occurred in the past under similar circumstances in the Midwest. Reports of students drinking and drowning have been reported at numerous universities including UW-Eau Claire and UW-La Crosse, the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud State.”
Will you please join me in prayer for the college students, prayer over the waters that are meant to give life, but are instead stealing it? Pray that God will put a hedge around the waters. Pray that the Holy Spirit will thwart the plans of the evil spirits intent on stealing, killing and destroying life. Pray that young people will value their lives, love wisdom, and that love will surround them.