There are no more boxing gloves in the basement. His bedroom walls are bare and his bed is stripped down to nothing. All of his Rubik’s cubes and puzzles are gone. I can’t even find one bottle of Gatorade left in the refrigerator. It’s official. No more 17-year-old. Marcus is gone. We’ve only got 5 little chickens left.
He came by to get his things this weekend. He didn’t say a word to me. I greeted him and helped him and asked how he was. Marcus would only address my husband. He wouldn’t make eye contact with either of us. Although he claimed to be mad I sensed guilt and sadness. I can still see through his facade.
Afterwards I tried to send him a message via Facebook to let him know that he would always have a place in our home and in our hearts. I received a brief auto message from Facebook that read “This person is not accepting messages from you at this time.”
I don’t think social media has ever been more insightful. It’s true. Marcus cannot accept a message of love at this time. He won’t hear me right now because he simply can’t. But is there someone who can hear me? Someone who needs me? It would appear so. After all, there are still 5 chickens running around, needing a mama.
Since Marcus left I have been grieving the loss of a child. I try not to let it affect my day-to-day interactions but I have felt such a sense of failure. I’ve been just so sad and so heartbroken. It took me a few weeks to notice that Sean was different.
It started when he emerged from the basement (the Marcus lair) and began to interact with his younger siblings again. Gone was the jealousy he had been presenting about his older brother “getting more stuff” or even “getting away with more stuff.” Instead we saw him laughing and participating in family art time or movie night or game night again.
Not long after that he began hugging me again and seeking me out for comfort. He made me a beautiful carved heart with needlepoint stitching in the middle. He never would have done this while Marcus was around. It seems that he is once again finding his equilibrium after the tornado that hit our family. The Marcus tornado.
Sean started high school last week. Our boy is now a high school freshman! The most amazing thing started to happen. He had one friend over to the house. Then two. Then he began asking to go to do things with a group of friends 2 or 3 times a week. He never socialized beyond Marcus before. Sean loves to be at home making sure the family is all safe and together. We’ve been waiting for him to start some outside friendships. I’ve been recounting tales of high school fun and hi-jinx for months now. Is he finally taking my advice?
Last night he asked me to tuck him in before bed. I know he’s 14 now, but it’s nice to give him the kind of mothering he never had before. As I rubbed his back and listened to him talk to me about friends and high school classes I realized something. He wants to be close again. I think I’m getting through to Sean.
I am still grieving my lost son. A part of me will probably always hold this grief. That empty space in his room is like an empty void inside of me.
But maybe it’s time to shift my focus. Perhaps I’ve lost in the struggle to help heal one child. But I am a part of the healing for another. Sean is flourishing. This child is beginning to “accept messages from me at this time.” Maybe Facebook can tell me all about it someday. Until then, this is enough. Isn’t it?
**The names in this blog have been changed to protect those involved.
If you’ve ever considered fostering or adopting, I encourage you to start your adventure!