Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SLICE #26- Son #2

When I look back through my slices, I find many about Son #1. And only a few about Son #2. While that has not been a purposeful decision, I think it does represent the state of my relationship with my boys. My sons are very, very different, both in looks and in personality. Son #1 was much harder when I first adopted the boys- volatile, prone to kicking, throwing, breaking, screaming rages. Son #2 was quiet, withdrawn, really only expressing unhappiness each evening when I turned off his much loved Xbox and enforced my "only an hour of screen time and only after homework" rule. Over the years, however, it's been Son #1 who has become much more attached. Son #2 has remained silent, aloof, withdrawn. I haven't written as much about him because quite honestly, I'm never quite sure what to say. Despite ten years of trying and despite years of therapy, we are still really not all that connected. I've decided (and this may be a one day decision), then, to try to write a few slices about Son #2.

July, 2012.
Sunday afternoon.
K and I are sitting outside the car wash,
waiting for his car to be detailed.
Last night, I returned from a whirlwind 48 hour road trip,
Launching Son #1 on his 900 mile journey to college.
It was a long drive.
I would have loved for Son #2 to ride along.
Would have loved the company
and the help driving. 
He, of course, refused.
Said he did not want to spend those long hours
in the car with me.
That was probably at least partly true.

More true, though,
I think
is the fact that K cannot bear
those long hours of saying goodbye
to his brother
best friend
half soul.

They have always been together
even when there was no one else.

I picture them
the year before they came to live with me
Six and seven years old
Forest green uniform shirts
khaki pants
laceless tennis shoes
standing on a corner
waiting for a ride
a block away from school
I am on my way home
and they are waiting
for their foster mom to pick them up
two hours after school has let out.

I picture them
that first summer
we were a family.
Every night
we read for half an hour
the boys would start out at opposite ends of the couch
but as the minutes ticked by
they would inch closer and closer
until they were sitting shoulder to shoulder
or sometimes laying on their bellies
one on top of the other.

And then I would put them to bed
under blue and red plaid comforters
in their L-shaped bunk beds
They would start out separately
But when I went to wake them up
they were almost always
curled tight against each other
against the darkness of the world.

They have always been together
even when there was no one else.

Nine years on the football field.
Son #1 a running back.
Son #2 the quarterback.
They are stars. 
Years of playing in the backyard
or on the street in front of the house
they know each other's rhythms perfectly.
When one, usually son #2, the quarterback,
goes down,
the other is right there
to pick him up
brush  him off
make sure he is safe.

In high school
most weekends
they set off
in the car
to "see some girls."
I do not like these nights
I worry
about parties
car wrecks and
drive by shootings
but I know the boys are
and they will take care of each other.

They have always been together
even when there was no one else.

But now
Son #1 is gone.
The silence
left by  the departure
 of my very quiet son
is huge.
An ache
extends from my stomach
all the way
to a lump in my throat
that makes it hard
for anything to pass.

I cannot imagine
the emptiness
Son #2 must be feeling.

They have always been together
even when there was no one else.

And so we sit at the car wash.
I do not have the right words
but I have spent ten years
trying to teach my boys
to feel.
And I know I need to somehow
acknowledge the grief
he must be feeling.

"I miss your brother so much
 I can hardly stand it," I say.
"I can't even imagine
how you must be feeling."

K has no words
he nods
and one tear
rolls down his cheek.


Chris said...

Oh Carol - this is a beautiful post! It's so true, that we try to connect with our kids and the connections are different with each one. How alone your youngest must be feeling. It's all trapped inside.

elsie said...

I hope that one day he will unlock his heart and allow himself to show his feelings. You are so intuitive and understanding, but also patient. I love the repeating lines, they are so powerful to tie it all together.

Kay said...

Such a beautiful poem. The image of the single tear at the end is heartbreaking. I hope he will trust himself enough to open his heart one day.

writekimwrite said...

Ah Carol through your writing I have come to care about your boys and cherish you for loving them. You write so honestly, thoughtfully and sometimes heartbreakingly about this whole journey. You have shown your committment to Son#1 and Son#2. You are the someone else who is there now, too!
God bless you all as you continue together. Praying...

Katherine Sokolowski said...

Oh goodness, the heartache. Those boys - and you - have been through so much. My heart goes out to you all.

Beverley Baird said...

These stories are beautiful poems - so touching, so real, so heart-aching.
You have painted a picture of a very lonely soul. May he break free of those chains that keep him from loving freely.

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

I admit it, Carol, I cried. But having each other when they're was no one else saved them....that, and you, of course. Love in a steadfast place.

Nanc said...

Their brother attachment runs so deep...thank goodness you can put it into words for him and let him know how much you can feel the gap as well...God has really blessed the both of them with a mom like you. xo

Linda B said...

Perhaps as you begin to write about Son # 2 you will see something missed. This is just such a story for beginnings, Carol. I admire you so much, your kind heart, your patience that seems endless. There is a point in our lives when we realize we are alone with ourselves. I hope this son begins to "be" & maybe he will reach out to you too. He has been with his brother always and now has to find a new way. It seemed hard when my first child, my son, left for college. We had to become a while new family, but slowly we did, although it was not without its rocky places. Best wishes to you in this time with son #2, & to him too.

Shannon Mashinchi said...

I can relate to your story about your sons...this is very similar to our boys when they came to live with us. The years have been good to them..they are doing well (fantastic really!), but the heartbreak in your voice is apparent and wrenching...I hope, in time, son #2 will open up and reveal his whole self to you...Your love is evident..

Dana said...

What a beautiful piece. The repetition was powerful. The ending was striking.

Jaana said...

So beautiful! Your repeating lines make a powerful effect

Ruth Ayres said...

Thank you for this gift. You are so brave to share the truth of adopting older children with the world. Keep bonding...bit by bit I believe it makes a difference. One day, my friend, it will connect. Until then,I hope you keep writing and peeling this story open.

Lori said...

This is such a touching piece. The ending made me tear up.

Mary Lee said...

Love matters. Keep loving.