Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Six years old
he sits criss-cross applesauce
on the multicolored carpet
in first grade
best friend Justin
on his right
I wonder how the school gods
could have put two such naughty little boys
next to each other alphabetically
but he clasps his hands
determinedly willing
never still body
to pay attention
and those big brown eyes
are so, so sparkly

Nine years old
he pedals fast
ahead of me
on his bike
through Washington Park
then gets takes a wrong turn
and is momentarily lost
When I find him
at the fork in the park road
his face is wet with tears
"But I remembered you told me
Jesus would always be with me
and I just prayed and you came."

Twelve years old
we drive by the middle school.
"I don't think I'm going to go there,"
he says to me.
"I'm just going to come
back to Green Valley
with you and Kadeem."

Fifteen and I drop him off
at the football field
his first high school practice
"Do you want me to get out of the car?"
I ask
more than a little nervous
"Naw," he says,
squaring his shoulders
and walking away.
"I got this."

junior captain
takes handoff
from younger brother
and then strong legs
fly down the field
head is held high
as he makes his way
through the post-game crowd
accepting congratulatory hugs
People ask me if I am afraid
he will be hurt
I am terrified
on every play
but he is so happy here.

graduated (barely)
he and his roommate
pack the car
and head one thousand miles
south and west
We hug goodbye
in a hotel parking lot
"I got this," he tells me,
"You just gotta trust me.
I got this."

And now
at twenty-one
I watch
as he is brought
in to the courtroom
in handcuffs and shackles
head bends lower and lower
as the attorney explains
the charges against him
he takes off his glasses
and wipes away tears
more than once
and I wonder where my boy has gone

his eyes were so sparkly


Jaana said...

There are tears in my heart after reading your poem. I believe these words still hold true: "But I remembered you told me Jesus would always be with me and I just prayed and you came."

elsie said...

I hope that your writing is helping you at this very difficult period of life. This is such a heartbreaking story of your boys and the choices they have made which will impact their life and your life. I wish I could stand beside you and reach out to support you. I just want you to know you are still in my thoughts and prayers.

Unknown said...

This poem is so powerful and evokes such emotion. Thank you for sharing it with us and know I will say a prayer for you both.

ABoyden said...

Heartbreaking poem. Where indeed has the sparkle gone? Something I worry over every school year with my boys. . .

Angela said...

Once, in the middle of a tremendous loss, a friend began sending me a poem every day. All of them were heavy. All of them brought tears to my eyes. Those poems were so cleansing, and the realization that others knew what it was like to carry such pain provided so much peace. I hope your writing is providing this for you.

Sonja said...

this one will stay with me forever. thank you.

Linda B said...

I hope that you know that this little boy is still in there, Carol, and hope he gets through this with a learning of what is good for him is not what has just happened. Hugs again, thinking of you, sending prayers.

Dana Murphy said...

Oh, Carol. What a beautifully written poem. You captured the essence of that young boy, and I pray that you will once again see the sparkle in those eyes. I'm crying for you, but I have hope. I hope you do, too.

Elisabeth Ellington said...

You are writing some incredibly powerful pieces this month, Carol. You know the stories are killing me, but I've got to say: so is the writing craft! Man! You are taking these impossibly painful moments and crafting them into art, and that's what makes the story resonate so strongly.

Michelle said...

I hope writing is helping you through the pain. I feel like you are sitting beside me sharing your stories. I'm just sitting here listening. It's so raw right now. He's crying. He is remorseful. He needs help to turn his life around after some poor decisions. That sparkle in his eyes is still there, clouded by bad choices. This is what rock bottom feels like. There is only one way to go -- up. Time, healing, and prayer. Repeat.

I think Jaana said it best and I believe these words still hold true: "But I remembered you told me Jesus would always be with me and I just prayed and you came." You both need to remember and hold onto those words. Hugs.

Jackie said...

After reading this poem and being so touched by its power, I read your other post about your sons. The emotional pain that seeps from your words makes me want to reach out and try to comfort you. I will keep you in my thoughts and well as your sons. They are young...they make bad choices...they know you love them but son #1 may feel torn, embarrassed or guilty for what he thinks might be disappointing you. Take it a day at a time. Be there for you have said...Tough Love is just that...Tough. You have the support of many slicers and I am sure others as well. Peace and Love your way. Jackie

Angela said...

Your poem - so raw, so powerful, so sad. Hopefully writing about it is therapeutic for you. I know it helps for me. I too have experienced the feelings of loss through drugs. Luckily my brother is still alive, but he has been "gone" for so many years. Right now, he sits in a cell and it leaves my family with a feeling of comfort because at least we know where he is at and that he is safe. Never give up hope, because if you don't have hope, what do you have? We have learned over the last 11 years that you can't enable for that only steals opportunities for growth away from your boys. You have done really amazing things for your kids and just think - if you didn't adopt them - they would never have known normalcy. They will "come back" some day. Give it some time. They know love because of you. I wrote 2 pieces on my blog last year regarding my brother. If you think it might be helpful - they are titled Hopeful and There it Sits. Sometimes it's helpful to know you are not alone. I am sorry you are dealing with such heartache and pain. Big hugs!!!!

Ramona said...

Love that your touch of humor shows up even during this very difficult time - "...I wonder how the school gods
could have put two such naughty little boys
next to each other alphabetically..."
Love him and pray for him as we're doing for you right now. So sad that our virtual arms can't reach you, but know that you and yours are lifted up in mighty prayer.

Julie Johnson said...

Dear Carol, My heart is breaking for you. A mother's love is strong and just as you told your boys that Jesus would always be with them, remember that HE is with you too. I am sending you prayers and hugs.

Molly Hogan said...

Carol, this is such a powerful poem. I hope that writing is providing some solace to you or at least a place to rest some of your pain. You've crafted this poem so beautifully and your repetition about sparkly eyes at the end really packed an emotional wallop. Thanks for sharing.

Jennifer Sniadecki said...

Thank you for trusting us with your words. We are all thinking of you and your family!

Cathy said...

This just made my heart stop. You have such a way with words. This is such a hard time in the lives of our children as they find their way. It's hard to not be able to protect them. It's hard when the world doesn't see all that is possible within them. We just have to hope they find their way, that the sparkle is still there and can rise. We have to hope "they've got this."

I sometimes look at young exhausted parents. I remember the days that were so physically exhausting I wasn't sure I could keep going, but sometimes I miss those days. These days are a different kind of hard.

Sending hugs and a little extra prayer your way,

Tabatha said...

I remember when my kids were little thinking about how being a parent means giving up a certain amount of control -- you can remove them from the grocery store when they start throwing a tantrum, but you can't always keep them from having one in the first place.
Not having control and not knowing what is going to happen next can be hard to bear...thank goodness for your sustaining, buoyant faith.
Just keep on doing your best and you'll have done all you can. Sometimes that has to be enough. Hugs to you.

Unknown said...

I can't even put into words the impact you've left on my heart with this piece. If I'm feeling this just from your words, I can't fathom what you're feeling. Thank you for opening up your heart and I know in doing that support will fly in. I am praying for you and your son.

Kim Oldenburgh said...

I did not see this coming. As I began reading, I had a smile on my face, thinking of the many students in my own classroom like your son-full of life. By the end, I cried. I hope your writing is healing you through this difficult time.

Chiara said...

I just read this. My heart is heavy for you, for your son, and for all the boys whose lives are sometimes shattered permanently because of life circumstances. Your son has you. He has love in his life. He has something to hold on to.

Stacey Shubitz said...

I can't even imagine what you're going through right now, Carol. Life got away from me this past week so I'm catching up on your blog posts right now. My heart aches for you. I wish there were something more I could do to help. Is there?