Sip Slowly & Drink It In

By Tabatha McIntyre

One morning, over a decade ago, I stumbled upon John Eldredge’s website, “Wild At Heart.” The title of his then-current blog, “The Last Cup of Tea,” sounded intriguing to me as I both loved tea and John’s writing. I quickly opened the site and began to read. By the time I had finished, I was sobbing. Here is most of the entry.

“Three years ago, our middle son Blaine left for college. He and our youngest, Luke, were very, very close and I knew Blaine was leaving a big hole in Luke’s life. Luke was only a year into a high school experience that would prove very hard and very lonely. My father’s heart ached for him. So every morning, I would wake before Luke and make us both a cup of tea. We would share those early morning moments in the kitchen, sipping tea, sometimes talking, sometimes just being quiet. Then, we would pray together, and I would send Luke into his day. I might have missed a few mornings here and there, but this was our ritual every morning for three years. Tea and prayers.

As May approached, I could feel a knot in my stomach. I knew the morning was coming when we would have our last cup of tea. High school would end, summer would pass too quickly, and Luke would head off to college himself—and these days would be over. Forever.”

He talks about, after 24 years of having children at home, walking through the doors to an empty house. He vulnerably concludes that he hates goodbyes. That morning, he only made one cup of tea.
I am not entirely sure why it captured my heart so much, other than I could see myself there, making that single cup of tea. Being the mom who poured her whole life into her kids, and then one day only to get to make one cup of tea. It was still years down the road for me, my oldest only being 5 at the time. Even though it seemed like an eternity away, I could still marginally understand how fast time flies, especially when your children are growing up. I felt that bittersweet reminder that nothing in this life stays the same, we can only live in the moment and hold on to the memories. I asked God right there to give me something with my children—some sort of tradition or memory we could have on repeat to anchor our relationship.

I wanted to figure out something we could do when they were older that would give them a foundation of love and connection. Years went by and I tried different things. With my son, it was building Legos, watching Marvel and Harry Potter movies, playing board games, and reading his stories. It was all fun, but nothing seemed to stick, nothing seemed to just be obviously “our thing.” For many years while I homeschooled them, we would have teatime complete with classical music, candles, cookies, and a chapter of whatever book we were reading aloud. Precious memories I cherish. Eventually, enough life happens, tiny babies turn into big kids, who turn into small adults, and eventually interests, time, and priorities just organically change. In what feels like a couple of lifetimes and also just a few blinks ago, life evolved so much, and that 5-year-old is going to be 17 this November.

Just this year we started something though. On the first Sunday in 2024, we went and had coffee at our church’s cafe together before church. We sat and talked and caught up with each other like old friends. As we pulled into the driveway, I asked if he wanted to do it again the following Sunday. For the past 4 months, we have missed only a couple of Sunday morning coffee dates. We both knew right away that this was something special to share. I realized after so many years of hoping, that this was going to be “our thing.”

On the way home last Sunday I took in the moment, him driving me in his car, asking thought provoking questions about the sermon we had just heard. As I got emotional and my eyes welled up with tears, he looked over and he knew me well enough to understand, I was already missing him. He started talking about when he goes away to college he is going to try and make the drive back at least once a month so we can continue this tradition indefinitely. Like me, he feels the pull to keep this experience in his life. What a gift. It reminds me that no prayer is ever too far gone to be answered.

He knows the story of “The Last Cup of Tea.” I have told it to him many times over the years, assuring him that I am always trying to make the most of the time we have. I try not to count down the days, but I already miss him. Every cup of Sunday morning coffee feels special and sacred. I will sip slowly and drink it in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *