The Unprodigal Son
I was told once, many years ago, that someday he would break my heart. And two years ago, when he moved 700 miles away to live with his father, it was assumed that the person who’d said that was right. Of course I missed him unceasingly, had this relentless longing for my sweet, easy boy (even though he was the most difficult child to feed), but instead of letting fear get in the way, I let him go with love and unending support to do what he needed to do. And that boy, the one who was predicted to break my heart, has done nothing all his life but mend it.
Aidan is seventeen today, and we are going out to dinner to celebrate. He moved back to southern Oregon two months ago, said “the city” (what he calls Los Angeles) was fun for visits, but he was tired of living there. Next week we register him at the local high school where all of his friends from middle school have gone. They, along with Aidan, have two years left. It’s been so enjoyable to watch him get back in touch with everyone, social person that he is. He’s reestablishing his identity here.
And he has been reestablishing his relationship with me as well. He’s never been more open with me as he is now. There is an ease about him, a level of confidence, of generosity. He healed one wound and now that we, for once in our lives, have some one-on-one time, he is perhaps healing another. I can’t imagine how it was for him, all his life, living in Nigel’s shadow, getting only a fraction, a sliver, of time that other siblings could reasonably expect from other single parents. And now, he has me. Like the Biblical father, I couldn’t be happier about his return.
I sit at my desk, slumped over spreadsheets, and sigh. Aidan walks in behind me, talking about his video game du jour, sees the state I’m in, and immediately puts his arms around me and kisses my head. “You okay, Mom?” It’s all I can do not to cry as I realize what a gift Aidan is to me. I had grown so used to Nigel never soliciting hugs and stiffly tolerating them when I, desperate for contact, would reach out to him. And I know he couldn’t help it and he did the best he could, and still does. I love my boys equally, always have. But the inescapable truth is that whether Aidan has anything to heal in himself or not, whether he knows it or not, he is healing me.