My son Dillon hoisted his duffle bag on his shoulder and gave me a hug. I wasn’t one for making scenes at the airport, but I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. He was only 21, about to deploy to Afghanistan for the second time. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll be home soon,” he said. I wished I could believe him. But how could I? Two years earlier, Dillon’s older brother, Tanner, had been killed in action. Keep Dillon safe, Lord, I prayed. Have mercy on this mama.
I kept on praying those words, even after I got home. Please have mercy on this mama. Morning, noon and night, one prayer, over and over. What else could I do? When we got the news about Tanner, Dillon was in basic training. The army gave him the option of pulling out. I’d wanted him to. But Tanner’s death only strengthened Dillon’s commitment to the cause. He chose to be in harm’s way. I could only hope God would not let this war take two sons from me. Have mercy on this mama, Lord. Mercy.
I needed a distraction, anything to keep my mind off Dillon. I stayed busy studying for my real estate license, but I still had too much time on my hands. If only I had a part-time job. Holy Highway popped into my head. A ranch for at-risk girls, not too far from my house. I drove by it every day. Maybe my mothering skills could be put to use. Time with these kids might distract me from the empty beds at home. I got the phone number and made the call.
“Funny you should reach out now,” the receptionist said. “One of our dorm moms just quit. Interested?” The position required three nights a week on the ranch. I’d be in charge of one of five dormitories. I applied and was hired right away. After two weeks of training, I was ready to be a dorm mom.
Of course, Dillon was still on my mind when I arrived for my first day of work. I glanced at my freshly printed schedule, struggling to concentrate. Then I read the name of the dorm I’d been assigned.
I knew then that my prayers would be answered. Four months later, Dillon returned home safe and sound, and I’m still in charge of the same dormitory: “Mercy.”