It’s the end of January, 2012.
I answered the knock at the apartment door, not expecting anyone in particular. I’m greeted by a girlish-looking woman, nervously pacing on my doorstep. She’s come to introduce herself to me – she’s Griffin and Elvis’ mom, my 12yo son’s newest friends.
“I’m Renee. It’s nice to meet you finally. Listen, I just wanted to clear the air about something…”
Oh great…what has Ean done? I immediately start shaking my head back and forth. No. No no no… I can’t take anymore. I’ve moved 250 miles away from my marital home, having just left my husband. My Dad has just passed away. My oldest son has gotten himself in trouble with law enforcement. (All of that in 3 months time.) I really can’t handle any more drama. I’m at full capacity.
But she continues…
“I know you’ve given Ean permission to go to church with us tonight. I just wanted to let you know, church isn’t ‘church’ – it’s actually my AA meetings. I’m a recovered alcoholic. Don’t worry it’s nothing new for us – going on 5 years. But I didn’t want Elvis or Griffin to be ashamed to tell you the truth. I like people to know up front. If you don’t want him to go – I understand. Several single parents bring their kids and the children hang out while we have our meeting.”
I stammer a coherent reply. I’ve never met anyone so open before and I knew – at this very instant – that Renee and I were going to be friends forever.
Her whole family consists of herself, 3 sons, her fiance and her fiance’s daughter who are around A LOT. As families, we mesh well together and close bonds are formed. Her sons become like nephews to me – and almost like step-siblings to my kids.
Griffin hits puberty. Things go downhill. Puberty is really hard on boys anyway – but Griffin is really struggling. Renee fights hard for him. I can’t even go into all of it in a blog post – but she fights. He has to know, deep down, that she loves him – even if he can’t see it for what it is right now. She gets him the help he needs and things start to improve.
We all end up moving out of those apartments about the same time. And, thankfully, we move within a mile or two of each other. The boys still see each other often and out in the country there’s a lot more room to roam, explore, and do all the things boys are supposed to do.
Things seem to be getting better.
But they’re not.
It’s the Fall of 2013.
Griffin is struggling again. Renee is at her wits end. It’s very hard being a single parent. Griffin goes to live with his grandparents. Everyone needs the break. Things seem to improve a little. It’s before Thanksgiving. Maybe if he can just get through 9th grade, things will settle down a bit for him. Puberty is so tough on kids.
It’s the end of January, 2014.
I talked to Renee on Wednesday evening about Griffin. Ask how he’s doing. He’s been on my mind all day. Renee mentions that she wonders if having him stay with his Grandparents is too much. Maybe it’s time to bring him back home. I’m quiet. I don’t know. I don’t have answers. I’ve been the child in the house that was being torn apart by an out of control son. I’ve been the child who didn’t want my older brother to move back home, because life was calm and stable when he wasn’t there. I’ve been there. So what do I say?
I say nothing.
And it doesn’t matter anyway.
Because Renee calls me Thursday morning to tell me that Griffin is gone. I think she means he’s run away.
That’s not at all what she means.
You are loved.
You are already missed.
It wasn’t unfixable.
It wasn’t – necessary.
We are all just heart broken.