mercredi, janvier 24, 2007

As though we never say goodbye

I don't know how much of my sense that there is something very special about my son Colin is due to the miracle of his conception, and his recovery from the virus he got from me. Parents who have suffered the agony of having infants in Neonatal Intensive Care never really lose the memory of those frightening hours, or days, or weeks-the trauma of seeing an IV hooked up to your child's still-soft scalp is not something you easily forget. At this point, it doesn't matter, does it? Colin seems to have gotten a little bit of extra gravitas along with the antibiotics that probably saved his life. Although he is now a very tall nine year old, we still have a nighttime tradition-I throw myself on the bed next to him right before he goes to sleep, we pray and then we talk. A few nights ago, we chatted about his friend Stephen's upcoming birthday party. Stephen's your best friend, isn't he? I asked him. Yes, said my son, his voice soft in the darkness. I want to go to the same middle school and high school and college as Stephen. Then we can buy houses next to each other-and our kids can play together while we talk "adult talk." Then Colin said, a matter of fact voice: But Stephen will probably go to a different college, and I'll have nothing but memories. I hugged him a little closer, my tears falling silently in the darkness. Although we moved on to chat about his girlfriends way back in the second grade, my mind was elsewhere. I know that, odds are, he is quite correct. You see the heartache coming, and you can't spare your child the sorrow that lies ahead. Grieving myself for the loss of a friendship I had come to value, I want desperately to protect my son from loss-and know that is almost entirely out of my hands. All I can try to do is give him the tools to help deal with it when it comes.

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