On October 30, our church hosted Celebrate Light, as it does every year. My husband and I manned a booth for Chuck the Chicken, and in between scooping out candy for the kids and dipping down to pick up chucked chickens I scanned the crowd for my son.
The festival was the one time each year that I was pretty sure I’d get to see Jake, no matter how mad he was at me. I guess the church property was neutral ground for him. He wasn’t surly, and one year he actually let me drag him around to introduce him to people, and he lingered afterward, like he didn’t really want to leave. That gave me this wild hope that he’d come around, but he didn’t. It was another year and some months before that happened.
So I found myself looking for him, even though I’ve been pretty sure he isn’t in the Valley. I just…hoped. You know?
He never showed, of course, and I still have no idea where he is. This past week’s been particularly difficult (why!? I don’t understand the randomness)– I’m afraid he’s on the streets, not himself. And it hit me afresh that I may never see him again. That makes me feel lopsided.
When you have your children, you never envision a future without them. It’s incomprehensible. You think they’ll always love you, too. My mother told me this, between the lines in her journal and in person when I visited her the year before she succumbed to cancer. She envisioned me frolicking with her in a meadow on a warm, sunny day. Yeah, we never frolicked, but I think she tried–I remember shooting the rapids in the aquaducts in LA, and camping at Thomas Hunting Grounds and Deep Creek and Heart Rock.
Then I definitely went my own way. And on this side of her death, on this side of Jake’s disappearance, I see how hard I was on her. This is why parents have to stick around. So the kids have time to figure out how to forgive them and love them back.
And of course I now wonder if I’d forgiven her sooner would it have made me a better mom?
What if if if….
Got a ton of those.