He sat alone at lunch…

My son started his junior year today at a new school, a city of 3000 masquerading as a school. He walked in with his head held high, despite knowing he would know no-one. His bravery was stunning. Which made the crestfallen yet resolutely hopeful courage that swept across his face as he told me about his day even more heartbreaking.

He sat alone at lunch. My heart breaks a little writing that sentence. He tried so hard to bring up the positives, to find hope, and I thank God for his resilient, faith-filled heart. And, as I take in every hug and request for a cup of tea with one and two-thirds of a teaspoon of sugar, I am so grateful I get to be here for it.

Sometimes our memories so closely mirror our experience as to be indistinguishable. As I eat comfort food with my boy and load up episodes of Survivor to binge together, I recall the girl I was. I remember the feeling of walking into a room filled with strangers, eating alone, pretending to read a book rather than face the friendless corridor. I feel her inside me begging not to be sent back, and I so desperately want to give him an out. Here is the real rub of parenting; he is not me. He has his own journey. He doesn’t need my baggage, and he doesn’t need rescuing. He needs a safe place to rest after a hard day. He gets the thing I didn’t have, and it is healing to my soul.

One of the strange things of being a memoirist is the constancy of the human experience. The moments where whatever I’m writing intrudes upon the present day as if to say, “You thought that this was the past, but here it is!”

Tomorrow, I will drop him off at school with a prayer, a smile, and a Yerba Maté in his hand. Tomorrow, he may need another night of Survivor and cups of tea, but perhaps he won’t. Perhaps, tomorrow he will make a friend, or share a laugh in German class. Perhaps.

Hope is a powerful resilient thing. It springs eternal and will not be denied. My son is hopeful, and so am I.


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