Its in the Waiting

When you are a YES girl, the tidal wave of events that you have agreed to conquer don’t creep up on you until it is mostly too late. The last month has been managed with desperate, intermittent gulps of air, hoping enough oxygen could be ingested to sustain the list of amazing experiences it was my privilege to complete.

Since I am all about the details, here is a small sampling of those experiences:

Proofread my book… TWICE! Such an interesting process, this book business. Is 19 months a reasonable length of time to be brooding, hemming, hawing, and agonizing over the biggest to smallest of things that create a ‘good enough’ book? Perhaps only if you expected it to take 9 or 10 months, which clearly, it hasn’t! But, it will be worth it; all the blood-shot eye veins and the stress rash on my hands… next.

The only time being an 80’s ‘gamer’ pays off… Tetris in the Costco parking lot..

Cater a wedding for 165 people… say WHAT?! Have I swapped my policing career to follow a passion for whipping up yummy bites of heaven in the kitchen? NO, no, no… I like my pension. It was a favor. Okay, and BIG favor. The kind that could never be returned, so why not add that to the list of doing ‘something that scares you’. Thankfully, my daughters jumped in to help, which made all the pressure of feeding a wedding crowd fun and memorable… and next.

My advocacy role is ramping up! It is a great honor to walk with women who are heading toward healing and recovery from trauma, domestic abuse and tragic life events. There are many random names and numbers on my phone that all connect to someone who is in my circle of care. Sometimes it is through a friend, through work, church, or a random meeting, but ultimately, opportunities to share life with hurting people is showing up on my radar. Whether it is guiding conversations in growth circles, having afternoon coffee dates or late night phone calls, I am inspired by their courage, their insights and the desire to be well… and finally…

Son has made a brief connection. It was timely, his phone call from jail on the eve of my 50th birthday, my cell phone number still memorized in his sorted brain, but not the date of my existence. For 2 weeks I paid special attention to my phone in case he called. I spent hours on hold to try to arrange a visitation appointment. Each phone call I missed or each potential visit I could have made, drove me to the edge of panic, wanting nothing more than to BE there for him.

The dormant ghost of lingering sadness returned to haunt my sleepless nights and stressed-out days. I simply will not go down, cannot get stuck, should not dwell on the scars of lost time and love. I miss him. Deeply. I sense the balance of his mental health over mine, is about to be challenged.

We had several heavy conversations on the phone and one face to face visit in a scene straight out of Hollywood. Inside a Plexiglas booth with graffiti scratched into all of the painted surfaces, a grotesquely over-used telephone receiver connected me to my lost boy, who looked swallowed by his over-sized prison jumper.

I listened intently while he described his pain. Disconnection from family, from healthy pursuits, from joy… from God. Hearing him speak was good for my ears, but hard for my heart. What could I now offer to my son who has rejected my words, support, and presence for years?

My tears began when I looked into his eyes. They used to dazzle with youth, twinkle with mischief and light up with passion. These eyes were weathered, skeptical. Not knowing where to look once realizing I could not peer into these eyes, I lowered my head to push through the accusations of shame growing from that little voice inside. It insists on showing up whenever I am facing challenging parenting moments with my children born into domestic violence.

Look at him. Connect.

My thoughts rush through 8 years + 1 month + 12 days since the last time Son was woven into our daily construct of living. All 2,962 of those days inwardly begging for a glimpse of his curly hair, hearing the sound of his dramatic voice, and watching the efforts of his passionate energy. This is grief.

Maybe not the same kind of grief as losing Mum, but the kind that leads to insanity, due to the cruel tricks of permanence. Mum’s death is permanent. 28 years tells me so. Son dies each time there is brief contact, and then silence. I have mourned this boy over and over again, having to release his life and the memory of US to a greater force than I can comprehend, not knowing when it will end, but anxious that it might.

As our visit was ending, 45 minutes not enough time to penetrate the layers of hurts between us, he took a deep breath, stood to leave and said the thing that seemed to be hardest for him. “I love you, mom. Okay? Just… I love you”.

I could not breathe. How many times have I said these words to him, yet could not respond to this. I held his gaze, my face perhaps in shock or at least in wonderment of what gain this newly found language would afford our relationship. Was it part of his plan to assure my support? Was he caught up in the moment of a semi-normal conversation between mother and son, discussing future plans and hopes for better days ahead? Was it a crack in his hard exterior toward me from the unhealthy life we shared when abuse ruled the day?

I will not know. Not until the next time he appears. Maybe not even then. A chill went down my spine as I turned to leave that scene. I have had moments like this before; the kind that impress finality. Is this the last time I will hear his voice, see his smile, or be his mom?

For years, my heart has sensed it is being prepared for a last moment with my son. Was this it? Is this the grief that I have been practicing for the last 8 years, in little bits and chunks, preparing to permanently lose this beautiful little love of mine?

My logical brain says, do not listen to this emotional ranting of your soul. He has come back before, he will come back again. And he did call, one more time. To say he was released and would call me when he had his $hit together.

No, Son. Please don’t do that. Call me now. Call me when its hard. Call me whenever you need a friend. Waiting until you have it all together, never comes. We need each other now. There is no time to get it right. There is only here, this. And we will find a way to be okay in it. Really.

I am trying to stay above the fear that creeps into my mind when processing this grief. The waiting can seem scary and hopeless. What a remarkable time to be proof-reading my 52 Weeks. There is a quiet, steady voice in the background of that intent focus.

We are here for a reason. I am not alone. There is a tomorrow.

And… Love is in the waiting.


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4 replies to “Its in the Waiting”

  1. Tami Cartwright says:

    AJ, this is beauty and pain. Thank you for being vulnerable to share. When you show your heart, it gives permission to others. And we all need that. Sending hugs, mother to mother.

    1. AJ says:Author

      Thank you, your encouragement gives me courage. xo

  2. Cari Mutch says:

    Your. Writing. Gets. Me. Straight. In. the. Heart. And Advocacy? YES YES YES! That makes perfect sense.

    1. AJ says:Author

      Your heart is a beauty. xo

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