Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Loving a grieving teen... not always "cool", but parents aren't known for being "cool"

Tonight there is a loud knock at my back door...
No one who belongs here knocks before entering, we have an "open door". Our back stairs are especially creepy, particularily after dark. It's at the top of an old iron fire escape that wobbles somewhat as one walks it's step. It is located just off of a downtown alley and is made of iron grate, therefore at the top, you can look down a full floor to the dumpster below. It's creepy and even I avoid it after dark.
But someone is knocking at the door.
I am surprised to find a middle aged hispanic woman, she looks tired.
She asks about other apartments or lofts in the building as she is looking for her teen age son.
I tell her about the loft on the corner and give her directions to their door, I describe the buzzer they have as the door is far from the living area and they are unlikely to hear a knock.
I thought that would have been the end of the conversation. But she was worried about her 17 year old son who was at the apartment of the boys who live on the corner. I reassured her that they were "good boys" and have never been a problem as neighbors. They were quiet, they were not "partiers" and were always polite. I reassured her that if her son was there, he was with above average kids.
She asked if I knew their names and if I possibly had a phone number for them, I did not have a phone number but I know both Josh and Shane, the longest two of the three roommates.
Her eyes welled up as she asked if I'd known that Shane has been in a car accident. I hadn't heard. I asked if Shane was OK, but he was not. Shane was 20 years old, a month shy of 21, and he had passed away in the single car accident. Josh was driving the car and was completely unhurt in the accident. The other roommate was in the accident as well, uninjured.
I was shocked as her words sunk in.
I invited her in...
She declined, standing there on the dark fire escape, looking very small. She explained that her son and Shane were good friends and that he called home to let her know that he intended to spend the night in the apartment to be near his friends and to grieve Shane. The Mother was very concerned that her only son would fall in with these boys, the boys who were driving the car that Shane died in. She did not want her son to get into a car with these boys and go the way of Shane. A huge single tear dropped onto her cheek, though she refused to cry outright.
I was not sure how I could help, nor why the pained Mother was still standing here, talking to me.
And then it dawned on me.
She was not sure if she was doing the right thing.
She was looking for her son to be sure he was safe and sound, to be sure he was equipped with the sense to rebuke peer pressure for a late night car ride. But she did not want to push him further away by chasing him down. She was unsure about going to find him, and didn't know if it was OK for her to act like a worried Mother. She wanted to let her son know that she loves him, and how much more important that it was that he knew she was concerned. Being "uncool" IS what parents sometimes have to do, so that kids know someone cares, so they know they are loved.
We talked a few more moments and with resolve, the tears dried, she decided to go to the apartment and make sure her son was OK, she didn't necessarily want to pull him home, she knew he needed to stand on his fragile man legs and deal with this emotional blow in his own way. But she also needed him to know that he was loved by his family and that his Mother was willing to risk being a "Mom" to show him that.
Loving teenagers enough, but not smothering them, a difficult task indeed...

Rest in Peace my dear young neighbor Shane, you are heavy in my heart tonight...

To the Mother I met tonight, may you always have the courage to show your young man child your deep love, no matter how uncool you feel that may make you, your love means far more to him than how cool you are.
May he always be safe.

posted by addict @ 11:39 PM |

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