Children are like sheep. They look all precious and simply loveable and you just want to hold and snuggle with them and caress them and keep them at your side until the end of your days. But they don’t want that. Our children would rather throw off our arms and find ways to get dirty, covered in mud and brambles and the muck of the world as they find their way.
And as much as it tears our hearts to see that happen, as parents we have to let that happen.
When children are little, they step on our toes. When they grow up, they step on our hearts.
Ain’t that the truth.
We have a prodigal son and have neither seen nor heard from him in over two years. It was his choice but, like life that is always connected in its myriad of ways, we had a hand in it. Mr. P. was an adult and if he was going to live with us, we insisted on certain rules and behavior and if he didn’t want to abide by them it was time for him to leave. So he did and set me on a path I never thought I’d have to travel.
At the six month mark of his disappearance, I had a melt-down. In situations like this, it’s terribly hard to hang onto hope. Where is he? What is he doing? Is he ok? Is he eating well? Is he in jail? Or worse: is he dead and I don’t even know it? Oh god, I hope not.
Sometimes I get jealous of those parents whose child has died. To be sure this is one of the most terrible things a parent is ever called upon to endure. Parents should never ever ever ever have to bury their children. Ever. I’ve seen that terrible heart-rending heartbreak in my own family and the vision of that small coffin will haunt me forever. But at least those parents KNOW. They KNOW where their child is. They will eventually KNOW their child is in a better place. And if the death came about after suffering, at least there is some peace that the suffering is no more. They can also visit their child’s mortal remains whenever they want. They may not realize it but in that, they are blessed.
Me? My child may be an adult but he is still my child and the gods of the universe have played the ultimate joke on me because I know absolutely nothing about him anymore.
I don’t need to know what he’s doing, where he works or even where he lives. Sure, I’d like to hear of his triumphs and his travails and how his life is generally going but at this point, that’s not what’s most important. All I really want to know is whether he’s all right. A small note dropped in the mail or a short email or text that says he’s doing fine and to not worry will go miles in bringing rest to my heart.
I had a dream about him a couple of days ago:
Me and My Dude were at home and like all young people do, my son swept into the house like a whirlwind. He looked different since I last saw him. He was still young looking but it looked as if he had been eating fairly well because he was not all skin and bones. Thank goodness.
When he was on the way back out I asked for a hug and he gave it to me. When I asked him to call, he nodded.
I woke up with a feeling of comfort. He won’t call. I know it because I know him. But I’m going to believe that, at least for now, he seems to be doing all right as he finds his way in the world.