My son came home for the weekend. Physically, I noticed several changes. He is taller. I anticipated that one. He is pale. Team Edward in Twilight pale like he has not seen the sun in weeks. He is flabby. Flabby like the only exercise he’s gotten was walking from the couch to the toilet to the bed to the refrigerator. Before my son left me, he was in conditioning camp preparing for football, jumping on the trampoline everyday, begging for an opportunity to go the parkour gym, asking to toss the football in the cul de sac in the evenings. He has always been a little pasty thanks to our Eastern European genetics but his new sallow complexion was a sad shock.
Another unexpected turn was my son’s emotional state. I did not know what to expect but I most assuredly was anticipating the worst. My son does not communicate with anyone. It has always been an issue with both his dad and me. He does not respond to texts or calls. Nor does he initiate conversations. He does not pay attention to his surroundings and rarely makes connections that manifest into his own thoughts or ideas. Because of his lack of communication, I was left to assume what he is thinking. Automatically, I jump to the most detrimental scenarios like picturing my son, his father, and his stepmother sitting around the dinner table cracking offensive jokes at my expense and mocking my misery over losing the fight.
I was pleasantly surprised to find my son bright eyed and chatty. He wanted to talk about everything. I could not tell if he was starved for conversation in another language other than sarcasm, because that is the only language spoken in his father’s home, or if he was over the moon excited to be home. I think it was both. My son was not angry. He was not cruel. I did not feel like he was acting as a spy.
Every bit of all of this confused and confuses me.
I laid low and let him talk. He said many things that made my blood boil about his new life but the biggest statement was that he believes he is enrolled in school. However, he is not. Before seeing him, I confirmed with the school and he is not enrolled in any school, anywhere.
School started last week. He is not enrolled. He has missed his first week of high school. These people who have been validated by a District Court judge as the more suitable parents have failed to enroll my son in high school. My son has been busy getting rid of skin pigment and muscle tone instead of attending football practice and completing his summer reading. He is not enrolled … in school.
When asked about the situation, my son’s stepmother quickly gave a litany of excuses as to why it was impossible to enroll my son in school on time. Denial causes one to believe amazing things.
I am still sad. I am still mad. I am still grieving. But, after spending 48 hours with my son, I know I am inside him. I have made a difference. I have hope.
The wind is changing. Maybe Mary Poppins is going to float down to my house, spoon feed me her miracle cure and we will all get on with our lives just marvelously. Or, maybe, I am my own nanny and I have to clean up my own mess and take care of my own house and it’s now time to do some serious deep cleaning. Lamentably, the latter is true. It is time to rebuild and trust my son to find his way. I have to choose to take care of me before I can take care of anyone else. In order to rebuild, I have to consider forgiveness.
This may be the hardest trick of all.
After the hearing, I became aware of a song playing in my mind. Over and over in my subconscious the second half of a song was playing on repeat. I finally understood that my heart and my mind were trying to tell me to slow down and hear these words. I’ve since had the words tattooed on the underside of my forearm so I can remind myself of how I can choose to live.
Julie Flanders, lyricist for October Project, flawlessly captured the idea of forgiveness.
In this garden
I know who you are.
Blood in the dust
Of a fallen star.
If we choose to let go.
If we choose to forgive.
We can comfort each other
And start to live.