Months later, I still hadn't dropped it, and he told me the truth: he hadn't sold the kid; it had died. He hadn't wanted to make me cry.
And aren't we still so much, as adults, who we were at, say, twelve? Thirteen? I'm so much the same. Life has given me plenty of opportunities to buck up, to toughen up, but I'm still as easily broken as ever I was. My own brother avoids me on his worst days.
"I need you to call me every couple days," I tell my thirteen-year-old. "I'm not like your dad. My nerves. You know," I say.
"I know," he says.
"And when you call, say nice things like how much you miss me and how you can't wait to see me again," I tell him.
"But, Mom," he asks, "won't you wonder if I'm just saying those things because you told me to?"
"Not at all," I tell him. "Lie to me. Tell me you miss me so much you can hardly sleep."
The phone rings. My friend. I close my eyes and float on his accent, his voice, as he tells me his hard truths. "I don't like what you're saying to me," I tell him, "but I'm so glad you called me back. I love you."
"I know," he says. "I love you, too."
"I want to pray with you," I tell him ("Alright," he says.), "but I'll probably cry."
"Don't cry," he says. "Everything's ok."
Later, I stare into the dark and think to myself: we've changed, but we haven't. His words broke me, but not to the point I couldn't pray. And he didn't try to protect me with lies, at all, up to the point of his saying everything's ok. Let's just call that what it was: a bunch of crap.
The phone rings. My son. I close my eyes and float on his ever-deepening voice. "Hi, Mom," he says. "I miss you."
"Having trouble sleeping?" I ask.
"Totally," he says. I can hear his smile.
Struggling a little this week, Friends. I feel burdened for several loved ones, and I miss my big kid, whom I haven't seen since Friday. He goes on vacation with his dad every year, and every year I wonder if I'll handle it better than the year before, but--sure as clockwork--I always start crying come Day #4 or #5: not out of concern, just the missing.
Also, I seem to have gotten myself a mystery illness of the sore-throat variety for which--as of today--I'm taking antibiotics that may or may not help, according to the first general practitioner I've seen, I think, in at least six years.
I hope to see you here on Friday, regardless, for a second virtual (but old-fashioned) prayer meeting. Just in case this is spiritual warfare, I don't want to let the enemy win.
In the meantime, and on the heels of reading Beth's brave post on deconversion and Shelly's thought-provoking post on honest feedback, I think I'll continue asking myself: how well do I receive truth? (I have a ways to go, I suspect.)
This has been my 5ooth post in this space. Thank you for being here with me.