A Mysterious Note of Encouragement from a Child Gave Her Hope

Her son was struggling with alcohol addiction; the message reminded her that he was in God’s hands.

Posted in , Nov 25, 2020

Illustration by Dawn Cooper

It was time to start my afternoon run on the school bus. I drove up to the elementary school, parked and opened the doors.

Usually I enjoyed greeting the kids as they climbed aboard. Today I kept my gaze fixed straight ahead. I’d just come from a difficult family counseling session with my oldest son, Shayn. I felt pulverized. Hopeless. How did we ever get here? I thought. Shayn was intelligent, tall, with a softness around his eyes. He’d been a pleasure to raise, active in the Boy Scouts and church. The two of us were close.

Then he discovered alcohol at 17.

The kids filed past me onto the bus. One or two said hi. A little girl tossed a scrap of paper into my lap. “This is for you, Connie!” she said.

I absentmindedly grabbed the folded paper and looked up just in time to see wisps of long blonde hair disappear down the aisle.

Once Shayn had started drinking, he couldn’t stop. It triggered a disease we didn’t know he had. Now 20, he was living at home after a DUI. I’d hoped family counseling would help. But at today’s session, Shayn was angry. He said that we were blowing the situation out of proportion. That he was young and that kids his age drink socially. That his drinking was under control and the DUI was a fluke. His words buzzed in my head. What hope did we have if Shayn couldn’t see that he needed help?

I moved to toss the note in the trash can near the driver’s seat, then paused. What if the little girl sees you throw her present away? I thought. So I unfolded it.

Inside was a four-leaf clover, along with a message written in a child’s hand: “This is filled with hope.”

As I read the note, my whole body relaxed. The buzzing in my head stopped. My thinking changed. I couldn’t control Shayn’s drinking. My son was in God’s hands. There was still hope, even when I didn’t know what to do.

I searched my rearview mirror for the child who’d given me the note. Even whistled for attention. But when I studied the heads that popped up over the seats, not a single one had long blonde hair.

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