I am talking to my son on the phone. “What can I do buddy?” I ask. His voice is not the teen-man deep I’ve finally gotten accustomed to but the broken tearful child I long to hold on my lap and comfort. “Just stay on the phone with me mom…” and of course I do.
What else can I do? I am 70 miles away from him with an empty gas tank and not even the legal right to go to him and pick him up. It’s 20* outside, almost 10pm, and he is alone on the jungle gym at a school playground a few blocks from the house where he lives with his dad. He is broken, crying, angry, confused, and he has big big issues to deal with, big big decisions to make. And I can’t offer anything but my voice on the phone. God how my heart aches.
“You know my friend A?” he says. I murmur softly and he continues. “We have a theory that rough patches are just that, just patches and sometimes though it’s like God takes a great big dump on you and then hands you a miniature pooper scooper and it’s really hard.” I laugh a little and then say, “remember that movie where the guy is buried up to his neck and a passerby puts a chopstick in his mouth and tells him to dig? it’s like that right?” He laughs and agrees. It is, it is like that indeed. And sometimes digging your way out takes a really long time. I’ve been digging for 3 years now and I don’t feel any closer to freedom now than I did to begin with. But I have this: a son who calls me and the ability to offer him love from a cell phone on a cold dark night. You can’t really bury love.
I need to share that old 12-step poem with him next time I see him, remind him that he has the choice to change things, to accept things, and that he is indeed smart enough to know when to change it or when to accept it. He is a good kid, will be a good man. He made a few mistakes, but they aren’t mistakes that every teenager hasn’t already made. They aren’t terrible horrible character defining mistakes, they are normal stupid teenager mistakes and he is still good, wonderful, and loved. I tell him this, over and over, “you are good, you are wonderful, you are loved! It was a mistake, but a normal everyday one, you are fine, you are good, you are wonderful, I love you…” I thank him for telling me the truth, and I beg him to always tell me the truth because I couldn’t bear it if I had to doubt him. There may still be parts he isn’t telling me, but given the detail he DID tell me, I’m pretty sure he told me all there was. He is brave, my son, my brave good wonderful loveable son. I’m so glad I was there to get that phone call from him.
I wanted to go, get in my car and drive, to go and pick him up, make him hot tea and wrap a blanket around his thin shoulders, to tuck him in like a little boy, to hold as much of his 6ft tall body as my little self can and rock him back and forth. I couldn’t do any of that, but yet I was there anyway, in the way I could be, which was better than not being there at all.
Please God, isn’t it time for me to be there yet?