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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson



Luke called today. Kyle and I were both working from home, so we put him on speakerphone and soaked up the sound of his voice. All good news, and he’s doing great.

Luke is spending most of his summer off the grid, leading “excursions” in the mountains of Colorado. Felipe and Jimmy don’t like it. As they have stated, more than once, this brother of theirs is stupid. And they’re totally serious. But in this case stupid doesn’t mean what it normally means. This isn’t the stupid of pointless homework, or annoying girls. This stupid is expressed with a tone of voice and a look in the eyes that says — this brother of mine is freaking me out.

These are boys for whom a phone battery charged to less than 20% is a true crisis. We need to get home NOW. Out of juice is dangerously close to off the grid, and this, believe me, is not an option.

So there’s Luke out in the great wild of the Rocky Mountains with any manner of man-eating beast and neck-breaking avalanche — and no Wi-Fi. Gasp.

You’d think it would be Mom lying awake at night. And yet, I admit to sleeping rather well. I not-so-secretly like the idea of unplugged, and I think I might choose it for myself if given half a chance. Kyle and I periodically fantasize about building that empty nest lake home just remote enough to be truly disconnected.

The thing is, I had a feeling back in September when Luke loaded up his SAAB and my Jeep and headed for the U of M that this would be the last we’d have him living under our roof. This boy who (admitted by all) is the family favorite is also our most independent. He spent his first full summer away from home and living at Camp Nathanael at the tender age of fifteen. This is my kid who was born fighting giants, and cut his teeth with a weapon in hand. He emphatically refused to be called cute or little or any such insult from the time he could express such opinions. Big Luke is what he preferred.

So when this boy told us several months ago he was considering committing his next two summers to leading adventures beyond the limits of civilization it seemed like a perfectly logical choice.

Last weekend at my nephew’s grad party a friend of my sister’s was telling me about the months her own 20-something son spent traveling Europe with no plan and no bed. Free-spirit living from day to day. Her kid, too, was out of cell-phone range more often than not so they came up with an agreement. He’d send mom a text whenever he could, even if it was just one word. Alive.

As the two of us talked I began to recall stories from Luke’s childhood. Near-death episodes with miraculous endings. Like the time Luke was Peter Pan hiding from Captain Hook in the trunk of Dad’s car and the trunk locked and little Pan was stuck in the dark screaming his head off with nobody hearing. And later he came into the living room beet-red and sweaty and more than a bit shaken and recounting the story. So of course we asked him — How did you get yourself out?! And his answer.

I screamed, “Jesus get me out of here!” And the trunk popped open.

There are other stories, too. Bungee-jumping with a blanket attached to the Little Tykes jungle gym, a head-first dive onto concrete. Sliding between the rails of the top bunk removing skin from neck and chin.

It occurred to me a long time ago God meant to keep this boy alive.

That’s what I told Kim at the grad party, and it occurs to me now that’s probably why I can let him go.

He’s in good hands.

Not that there are guarantees. There are not. I read the news and see the requests for prayer at church. Horrible things happen to faithful people all of the time. And yet. Off the grid or on I can let my boy go feeling pretty sure God’s plans won’t fail.

Tomorrow morning early Kyle will fly with Felipe and Jimmy to California for their own mini-adventure. They’ll take three smart-phones, and I’ll follow their journey through text and Facebook. Jimmy will be sure they’re never too far from cell-phone coverage, although there has been talk of a day trip to the mountains. It would be a stretch, but I’m hoping they go. Felipe paints nothing but summit views and I’m sure his eyes would about pop their sockets to see El Capitan in living color.

Sometime this summer I might just need my own trip to the mountains. After all, Luke’s been telling me every time we talk about this magical place called Glen Eyrie where he goes for cellphone coverage on days off. You should come on up some weekend. I look it up online and I laugh out loud. It’s a castle. In the mountains. With my boy.

Yes, Luke. A no-brainer. I’m coming.

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