Hello homies. I have had what I think is called "writer's block". Not sure if I consider myself a writer, per say, but I do know that I love writing this little blog and get some pretty amazing therapeutic benefits from it. The fact that a few people who live outside of my head actually enjoy reading this? Icing on the cake.
The past month or so has been the emotional equivalent of a bear hug. From like, a grizzly bear. I find myself on this, the first official Monday morning of summer, feeling like the proverbial wet dishrag. Wrung out, strung out, but at the same time, never have I felt more at ease. More relieved.
Of course, the biggest how-do-you-do has been seeing Charlie graduate. I've bored you all to tears with the drama surrounding my eldest baby and his struggles and whatnot. You know the drill. Well, Charlie has once again rallied, once again pulled himself out from the grips of a viscous undertow and made it to shore. That kid was doing homework up unitl 4:00 a.m. on the day of graduation. He did it. And now, he may not even have to take a summer school class. He is, for all intents and purposes, a high school graduate.
I've wrestled with the feelings I have when it comes to Charlie and the past few years. I've always loved that boy. Always. And I know when I write about him, I tend to make him out to be some sort of martyr, some victim. I'm not delusional. I know a lot of Charlie's demons come from within. I know he's made some spectacularly stupid choices and that is a big part of what has made life hard for him.
But I also know that another part of what has made this so freaking tough, is something that was never in his control, or my control or his doctors or counselors or whoever. The mental stuff was always there. I don't know if the divorce brought it out and gave it a sort of charge, some sort of frog's kiss...or if it was a combination of bad genes or maybe that Irish wedding I attended before I knew I was pregnant...I don't know what it was, what caused my boy to feel things so deeply and get hurt so badly. Charlie had odds to face, odds that none of us can imagine but odds that nevertheless, should have been considered and respected and taken into account.
I've been talking to my dad recently. Not anywhere near how we used to talk, but more than we have in the past few years. He's been having Charlie work with him again, helping him maintain his rental properties around Minneapolis. So dad and I have had some conversations at the door, a couple of awkward phone calls. I shared with him my frustration with Charlie, how his graduation was maybe not going to happen, the possible summer school, etc. He listened. I thought it was progress.
Charlie wanted my dad to come to his graduation. He called him, and invited him. A few minutes later, dad called me. And he said, "I have some things I have to get to tonight, so we probably won't make it. But I have to tell you, the main reason we don't want to go is that we're disappointed in Charlie." I said, "Ok." He asked that I invite them to his graduation party, whenever that may be, and we ended the conversation.
Charlie asked, "Is Poppa coming?". Without missing a beat, I said, "He's having some trouble at one of the rentals. He's going to go fix it but they may not be there."
I get it. I understand my dad's reasoning. I've had friends tell me kind of the same thing...that it's not right to allow him to walk with his class at commencement if he hasn't completed the work. It's not right to celebrate something that hasn't actually happened. I get it. Believe me.
I understand the why, I guess I'm just having trouble with the how part of it. Charlie is not a bad kid. He hasn't hurt anyone. He hasn't committed any crimes or broken laws. Personally? I'm just elated that my kid is still alive, still functioning, still walking and talking and making me crazy and making me proud. I know what he's been through, and just between you and me, for a while there I was terrified that we wouldn't make it this far. I used to tiptoe down to his room and make sure he was breathing. I consider the fact that he's HERE to be a victory. The fact that he's stayed in school, gotten this far after so many wipeouts? I think that's pretty amazing. I celebrate that.
And so my son attended graduation. He put on his cap and gown, posed for pictures with friends, sat in that huge, crowded gym and when they called his name and he walked across that stage I cheered. I cried and I cheered and I clapped, and I felt perfectly ok with it.
He glowed. His smile that night made all that we've gone through seem so insignificant, made it all seem like a bad dream that we suffered through. Seeing my son walk with his peers, some of them he's known since they were in infant ECFE classes, seeing him do something so absurdly normal and routine...it was good.
I had signed him up, at the last minute, to attend the lock-in style all night party they throw for the graduating class. One of my friends, who was on the party committee, convinced me to volunteer. I balked at first, was indignant in my replies: "What do you think I am, a vampire? I can't stay up that late!" and "But I have three other kids to deal with." His replies: "Drink a 5 Hour Energy" and "They can handle themselves" (Love you, David). So I went, and I was so happy I did. I got to see 600-something 18 year olds celebrating a huge milestone, celebrating their pasts and just being together for what could be, for some of them, the last time.
And as I sat there, in the room I was assigned to watch, I got to see my son play. I was able to see him get hugs, high fives. I watched him be a normal, average kid. Laughing, talking to girls, joking with his friends. As I watched him I thought about what he's gone through, what he's overcome...I thought about what's in store for him, how he has his entire life before him.
For just a second, he was five years old again, playing at the park with other kids. He was smiling, happy.
I held back my tears, believe it or not, until the drive home at 1:30 a.m. And even then, for the first time in so long, they were happy tears.
He's made it. Life for my boy? It starts now.
And I couldn't be more proud.