Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I've referred to Jason, my boy from juvenile hall. I won't dig into that wound too deeply. But in the years that I knew him, not a month went by that he didn't precipitate some sort of crisis. He tried to set some car tires on fire, at one group home. At another he went on a rampage involving a knife that got him sent, finally, to the halls. In the later boot camps he spent no small amount of time in the box, as they called it. And when he came to me, he thought he'd continue the pattern.

I won't rehearse his sundry misdemeanors. Enough to say that I figured out within a few weeks that he would not learn anything from justice. Punishment would not work. So I'd forgive him. Sometimes there would be consequences, but they were far less than called for. They were never administered with emotion, and I always forgave him, in a way that he knew it was true.

He'd never lasted anywhere for so long. It's like he couldn't find a way to sabotage the situation. After a while there was a way that he could think of his lasting as a sort of success. He started to get the idea that he belonged. Of course it was all me. What, you think I'm modest? Being a father is what I was born for.

When he would succumb to his irrationality and fear and need for flight, as happened not infrequently, I knew that I really didn't have any power at all, to keep him. We are all free agents. My only path, with him, was to love him, and forgive him, and accept what came. I really do forget how many times, even with me, he ended up involved with the police, or in the halls again, or whatnot. But I kept going to court and getting him back. And the judge -- mostly the same one -- really got it, and was on the same team. A rare thing.

My point is, when these crises came, and I had to look into the empty place of his despair, that hurt me as much as it did him, even if he didn't feel it -- when these times came, I had a thing I'd say.

Jason, I'd say. I love you. With all my heart. I've taken you as my son, and that will never change. But if you have to go, then go. You'll always belong to me. I will never stop loving you. Go in peace.

One of the last times I ever saw him, he said it to me. Go in peace. He didn't mean it.

Today that phrase came back to me. There doesn't have to be drama. We can part ways without anguish. Sometimes we never do get a chance to make our final farewells. Sometimes we don't get a chance to make peace. That's what open blue skies are for. We stand in the bright sunlight, face turned upward, breathing, and say goodbye to the wind, trusting that it will carry our message to those for whom it is meant. They'll never hear it, but how much poorer the world, without the effort.

So then. Go in peace.


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