Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Saturday morning.
The alarm goes off at 3:30
And I think of the steeplechase day
Stretching long before me.
First a series of small hurdles.
Get son up
(ok, maybe not such a small hurdle)
Drive to airport.
Check in. Security. Train. Gate. Board.
Deplane in Phoenix.
Ground transportation.

Then a bigger hurdle.
Empty out son’s apartment.
Load car.

Another hurdle.
Tire store.
The low pressure light is on
and I envision sitting for several hours
waiting for repairs.
I think this might be big
But it turns out to be nothing
Cars lose air in the hot desert climate
Tires just need to be periodically reinflated.

And then the big hurdle.
Twelve hours in the car
Son's heart is broken.
his first love
maybe his only love
has betrayed him.
I have lived with him long enough
to know that grief
usually disguises itself
as red hot anger.
I am not sure
I can get over this hurdle.
I picture crashing
flying headfirst
into a stone wall.

Do you want me to drive?
I ask.
I ask if he wants to listen to music.
Book on tape?
I offer to read aloud.
He switches on the radio.
For five minutes.
Then switches it off.
“I don't want to listen to the radio.
I just want to talk.”
And he does.
For eight hours straight
But not the good kind of talk.
Not heart talk.
Not stories.
Not healing.
Not laughter.
Instead he rages
It seems I have many shortcomings.
As a teacher.
A mother.
A Christian.
I am the reason he has not been successful in Phoenix. 

The hurdles
and the running commentary
keep coming. 
I stop him once or twice.
Tell him that he is being unkind.
But mostly I am quiet.
Sometimes there are no words.

I am hungry
but he does not want food.
We switch drivers.
The tirade continues.
Santa Fe.
Las Vegas.
We are both exhausted.
And stop for the night.
He still does not want to eat
and we both go to sleep hungry.

Sunday morning
I eat breakfast alone
in the hotel lobby.
Brace myself for another day.
He wants me to drive.
No, wait, he wants to drive.
I can drive after we get gas.
No. He is going to drive the whole way.
He wants to get there and I drive too slow.
He forgets his wallet.
And races back across the hotel parking lot.
Forgets his glasses
And races into the hotel again.
I am prepared for four more hours
in the furnace of his anger
but he is mostly silent.
Flying down the highway
at speeds that leave me
looking in the rearview mirror
for flashing lights.

For three more hours
he says nothing
I read 
and watch 
as New Mexico mountains 
into prairies of Southern Colorado.

Colorado Springs
and then the anger spews forth again.
This eruption is brief
one hot flash
and then over.
He is silent until we get to Denver.
Explodes again
as I attempt to navigate
us through the maze of freeways
leading to the airport.
How many exits?
Exactly how many?
Are you sure?
Did you have to take the longest way?
I know which lane I have to be in.
You don’t have to tell me.

I am silent
as he drops me off in front of the airport.

I have crossed the finish line.
And I am still on the horse.
That is its own small victory.

I guess.


Ramona said...

Carol, this is no small victory! Your quiet understanding when he is so hurt was a tremendous gift. My heart broke as I read these lines:
"Empty out son’s apartment. Furniture. Kitchen. Bathroom. Mattresses. Clothes. Dreams. Load car." Dreams, tucked in with the list of other tangible items. How do you pack away dreams? Praying that a window opens somewhere for him.

Loralee said...


The way you wrote this...and what you shared...was felt right in my heart.

I've been carrying you and your son to the Lord in prayer tonight.

He is our Helper. He is a mountain mover.


Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;

Linda B said...

Oh Carol, when we hurt, we often reach out to attack those who are 'safest' to attack, & that is you this time. You are a wise mom to allow it although it has to be a huge challenge to keep quiet. Sending you good thoughts for a turning for your son, a figuring out what will work for him.

Tabatha said...

Wow, that sounds really rough, Carol. Have you or he discussed things with a therapist? Seems like an outside opinion might be helpful. It sounds like he doesn't have a very good grasp on why he is in his current situation, so it might be hard for him to move forward without getting a better one?

Judy said...

I agree with Ramona. Your writing in the midst of this grief still takes my breath away. Thinking of you.

writekimwrite said...

Somewhere in my collecting of inspirational quotes, there was this
Be Brave
Do not pray for the hard thing to go away
But pray for a bravery to come
That's bigger than the hard thing
During my own difficult season this spoke to me, along with God's promises and brought some solace. Continuing to lift you and your sons up in prayer. Hugs.