Wednesday, November 05, 2014

I'm Afraid To Ask

Thomas grew up in a neighborhood filled with boys his age. Over the years he befriended a few, was bullied by a couple and lost one to a tragic boating accident. Our little world in this one block radius was a microcosm of the world outside our mowed lawns, rose gardens, swimming pools and typical houses built in a typical neighborhood in a small town. It was a beautiful place most of the time with Thomas and one of his friends selling popcorn and candy bars in one "retail event" and Kool-Aid in another during the summers. His best friend, Jacob, came over and played in the leaves in the fall and invited Thomas to come over and swim in his pool. The boys immediately to our right (Christian was Thomas's age), next door, had chaotic lives living in a large, very loud household. More than anything Thomas and Christian mostly just crossed paths because I didn't allow Thomas over to their house because at a very young age the boys next door played "M" rated video games most of their waking hours and I didn't want Thomas exposed at such a young age to violence. Tyson was the boy who lived behind us and to the left and he was a couple years younger than Thomas but lived in a forward thinking family where the rules seemed to be that you must get your act together early and when the time came and he was old enough, he was out of the house to live life as an adult.

As time passed, Jacob moved away and the boys grew apart as they each pursued their path in life and connections were lost with just me linking the boys to Thomas as I told stories I knew of them. One boy played football, one boy was an average kid, Thomas's best friend was gone and one day, just last summer, the last of them graduated high school.

Together but without speaking about it, Thomas and I watched as the boys got driver's licenses and cars of their own and became independent and Thomas's car promised to him by his dad and I sat out front untouched. The chasm grew as each boy with a car began to hold jobs and go to school. It is there, here now, where we find ourselves, Thomas and I.

I drive Thomas everywhere and there have been times where we've passed by Tyson's car parked at the curb ready to deliver him to work or we have seen Christian walking back from the college just a few blocks from our house, the college Thomas was accepted to and never made it to in the end because he was very sick as his sophomore year was set to begin.

Each time we pass by Tyson's car or see Christian walking back from school I see Thomas turn his head ever so slightly to watch Christian walk the last block home or to look at Tyson's car sitting there.

I wonder what he thinks.

Does he really even register the scenes before him?

Does he wish he was like them?

Does he, God forbid, mourn the loss of what was promised to him throughout his teens and early adulthood?

I don't know because I'm afraid to ask. I don't ask because I know how I feel. I see what Thomas sees and my heart breaks for my young man who will wake up today to spend his day at his computer instead of going to classes or getting in his car to drive himself to work.

I have spent the better part of the last 14 years watching all of the boys grow and change and leave home in their own ways and I have watched as Thomas seemed to slow down and even stall at times.

Does he feel that way?

Does he feel stuck?

Does he get depressed that his world remains small, limited to my driving him to work three times a week and limited to a short, half a block walk to the local mom and pop grocery store to buy a Dr. Pepper and some Doritos?

I don't know. What I do know is how I would feel, I know how I DO feel as a mom watching our little neighborhood change as new young children and their families move in and those children reach milestones. My heart breaks for Thomas as he watches from our car with darkened windows, Christian walk home and Tyson drive off. In those times, I watch Thomas watch them and I wonder, does he wish he were more like his friends?

I don't know.

I'm afraid to ask.

Afraid of the answer.

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