2015 has been one of the hardest years for me as a mother. A year of poor choices, hospitalizations, car accidents, addiction. I have been slogging through long days of hopelessness, wondering if there would ever be anything good again. This week, there was a glimmer of hope. I read the celebrations on Ruth Ayres' blog almost every week, and decided that this week I would join in.
I get to King Soopers at 10:01. No Zay. I text him. Five minutes later he comes out. He is with a coworker, about his age. Blonde. They are talking to each other as they walk out the door. Zay has almost no friends right now and I am glad to see him engaged in a conversation with another human being.
He brings him to the passenger side of the car. Before I can roll down the window, he opens the door.
"This is S. He wants to meet you."
He wants to meet me? Not typical for most of my son's friends, but ok.
Almost as soon as Steffan opens his mouth, my teacher brain kicks into gear. The conversation seems rehearsed, like one I might have in our Center programs classrooms or with a band of fourth graders just learning to speak English.
Autistic? Cognitive delay?
My son has been taking heavy duty medication for the past six weeks. Has talked, at least to me, very little. I do not know if he is in there. I do not know what he knows. I do not know who he is capable of being any more.
S wants Zay to go for pizza. It's right around the corner he tells me. And of course, he will pay for Isaiah's pizza.
I groan. I am so tired. Pizza means at least a half an hour, probably longer.
And yet Zay has been so alone for the last few years.
A friend would be terrific. Maybe I just need to get used to the fact that friends will no longer be the big hulking football players I am used to. Friends might look different. And that is ok.
I tell them to hurry. I will wait in the car. I pick up my book.
Ten minutes later they are back. No pizza. It is after ten. The pizza place is closed.
Zay bids his friend goodbye and gets in the car.
I don't expect him to say anything. He has been long silent.
"He wants to be my friend," says Zay. "And I see how other people treat him. I'm not going to do that to him. I don't care what other people think."
A tiny window of hope opens in my heart. My guy, the man I thought I was raising, is in there somewhere.