The human tapestry is woven of all the stories we tell about who we are and how we got here; were it to contain only stories of our best moments, leaving out the painful ones, the result would be a caricature. Below is a story submitted to The Moments Project that reminded me that not all moments are positive, and not all transformations are for the better, at least at the moment of unfolding.
It was a glorious Friday afternoon. Work had been slow so I had taken off to enjoy the remainder of this spring day. I was sitting on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn, watching TV and thinking how great life can be sometimes. Then the phone rang. Caller ID said it was the school that my youngest son went to.
On the other end of the line was the Assistant Principal, who told me that my son had been arrested at school earlier that day. He and a friend of his were caught smoking pot on campus, and my son was now being held at a substation waiting for transport to downtown. I’m not sure how I managed to keep breathing or how my heart didn’t just stop during this conversation. The AP also told me that, all in all, my son was a good kid – that teenagers are known for their mistakes and it’s what they do with them that matter. I thought, how ironic that we should be having this conversation when I had this very one with my son – and yet here was this phone call telling me my son is now sitting in a cell somewhere.
Talk about a day going to hell in a hand basket. I’m sure the sun was still shinning and the butterflies I had been watching in the backyard were still fluttering around, but all I could think of was that my son had been put into hand cuffs and taken to jail in the back of a squad car. He is only 16 for crying out loud! Teenagers do stupid stuff! Ok so this was beyond stupid and yes he is accountable, but is this really the right way to handle this? I mean this was really a great Friday afternoon. The kind you wait for, the kind that you dream about, the kind you play hooky for. And my son wasn’t going to get to enjoy it… nor was I.
Nor would we ever be the same. He would always see the pain on my face and I would always see the sorrow in his eyes. Our lives had changed – now it was all about what we did with that change. In so many was I lost the child he had been that day. Just as he lost the mother I used to be. WE were forever changed … and not for the better.
What I felt most when I read this story was that I wanted to “make it better.” I wanted to calm my own anxiety about suffering by “fixing it,” by offering something pithy and soothing. Then I wanted to edit it, to give it a softer ending. Then I saw that all of that would miss the point that there is potential for healing in telling all our stories, including the ones that hurt to read.