Among all of the pronouncements coming from Thomas the other day about wanting friends and other things came an announcement that he would now be walking to work from now on. That was a couple of days ago and I didn't think it was going to happen. Then last night he had to work and guess what? At 4:25 Thomas set out for work on foot. Alone.
I waited to hear from him once he got to work and heard nothing so I had to assume he made it there. I could make myself alright about that because it had been light out and he had probably not had time to text me.
As the next 5 hours of his shift wore on for me I began to think about... no, SERIOUSLY WORRY about him walking home alone in the dark. at 10 p.m. My brain, that is not nearly at its best right now due to a dark depression that has crept over me the last few days, began to imagine the worst as I realized that he'd be walking, defenseless, home alone in the dark.
I see kids his age do this all the time. I'd say nothing bad ever happens in this town like a lone walker being attacked but I know that drill. People always say: "Not my town, we were such a quiet, safe community." I have heard that over and over and I couldn't help but let my mind drift there, to the bad place, where Thomas might not make it home safely.
Then the time came for him to come home and I got a text. Thank God. He told me he was leaving work and that he'd be home soon. I told him "okay" and that I loved him and I waited and watched the clock and ravenously polished off a Milky Way caramel candy bar, the only thing I could find to soothe my worry. Naturally it didn't work so I waited, empty wrapper in hand, glued to the clock, waiting. I thought about how he had his medical alert dog tag with him that I had up to date information programmed into it and I even thought of his tiger eye talisman that he still wears for protection--left over from the whole "demon inside of him" incident--and I had to believe those two things would keep him safe. If he were found lying beside the road, the cops and paramedics would have all of the information that they needed to treat him and contact me. This new desire of Thomas's to be independent was eating me alive but I wanted this so badly for him, to be independent.
By 10:30 I heard him at the door and I curled up in my chair and tried to act nonchalant about his arrival. I didn't want him knowing that I had worried so much about him. When he came in the door I didn't rush to his side, pepper him with questions about whether or not he had felt paranoid and I simply, quietly asked him how his night at work had gone.
Stacey had been there so it had been a good night.
Then Thomas stood before me for a few seconds and I didn't catch what the meaning of that was because I was so busy acting like I didn't care, that I hadn't worried, that I hadn't binge eaten a candy bar in record time in an effort to assuage my fears. It turned out, and it dawned on me within seconds that he was waiting for a hug.
I was out of my chair, in front of him and wrapping my arms around him as hard as I could. I told him his face and ears were cold and he half laughed about it and then let me go and went into his room.
He had made it. He was safe. None of my imagined monsters had gotten ahold of him and none of his monsters, apparently, had followed him home during that long walk in the dark.
Here we are again, now, another indicator that he is working towards independence. His bravery and confidence is palpable and my insecurities are eating me up alive. I am bound and determined to keep them to myself and support his efforts to become independent doing things like walking in the dark. I may self-destruct emotionally in the process but he will never know. As far as he's concerned I am truly excited for him--and I am, I'm just scared here and there--and it will stay that way.
I am interested in what comes next down the dark road ahead of him. An apartment? Starting college? Or maybe just a grand show of how independent he can be by doing more around the house like cook for himself or wash his own clothes.
We shall see.
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