The other day I saw a boy. He was about 14 and skinny and lanky, wearing baggy (not saggy) jeans and sneakers that looked way too big, but probably fit, because young teen boys have ridiculously huge feet. He reminded me of my son, who used to be a lanky boy with ridiculous feet and is now a "man" at age almost 23.
And for a minute, my stomach lurched into my chest and my eyes filled with tears and I missed my boy so badly it hurt, physically hurt, because that boy is gone and I'll never see him again. He's a "man" now, which is as it should be. That's the natural order, right? We birth them, we raise them, they grown up and we celebrate the milestones of growing up. But as that probably smelly stranger boy walked past me, I went into mourning. A true grief for the loss of my boy, who is making his own way in the world now without any guidance or help from me, because he's headstrong and persistent and is making life choices that lead him down a different path than anything I would have ever chosen or imagined for him.
After the stranger boy walked by, I called my son. But he didn't answer. So I left him a message. He didn't call back.
The next day, I texted my son. But he didn't text back. I imagined him dead. I'm probably not supposed to say that out loud, but that's what happens when your kids grow up. You call them, you text them, and if they don't respond you assume they're dead. It's fucked up, but true. Or maybe it's just me.
So I texted him again today, and I said, "LET ME KNOW YOU'RE ALIVE," which is what I always text when he goes a day without responding to me.
And he responded with a text. It said, "DUH." That's code for "I'm alive mom, stop worrying. I'm fine. I love you and miss you very much."
Because that's what happens when your kids grow up. They speak in code.