Last week, I wrote about Professionals. Here is a scene from two decades ago, again featuring my son David. As far as professionalism was concerned, we were both works in progress.
David was missing. My two children and I lived in Los Rios, a community of ranch-style brick homes on quarter-acre lots in Plano, Texas. David, his sister Jessica and other neighborhood kids had been playing after school, riding bikes along the sidewalks and freshly mowed Bermuda grass lawns of Leon Drive and shooting baskets on the turnaround of our driveway. The smell of chicken baking in the oven filled the kitchen with the promise of dinner.
“Hey, Mom,” Jessica said as she came from the garage into the kitchen and headed down the hall to her room. Jessica was a serious Middle School student with homework.
“Where’s your brother?”
“In the woods behind the house, playing with Derek and Jeremy.
As the sun set behind the woods, I walked into the backyard and called, “David, time to come home.” No answer. “David… Da….vid!” No answer.
I walked across the street and knocked on the door of Derek and Jeremy’s house. It was getting dark, very dark. “Have you seen David?”
“Last we saw he was down in the woods.”
I ran along the edge of the woods and raced up and down Leon Drive calling, “Da…vid, Da…vid, Da….vid.” No answer. I grabbed the phone and called every friend of his I could imagine. No David.
I paced the kitchen floor, looking out the front windows over the sink to the driveway and the back windows of the breakfast room into the woods and praying beggy-type prayers. Please, God, please, not a kidnapping. I’ll do anything if you bring him home safe. Visions of headlines reading, Boy Found Dead in Ditch, fueled my anxiety. I was ready to call the police. Then I heard the door to the garage open.
“Hey, Mom, what’s for dinner?” David strolled into the kitchen.
“David! Where in the world were you? It’s been dark for over an hour.”
“I was playing at Sarah’s house.”
“Sarah? You never play with Sarah. I’ve been calling you. Didn’t you hear me? I almost called the police.”
“Oh, Mom. There wasn’t anything to worry about. I knew where I was.”
I could have killed him.
Why does a mother who has lost a child and worries that something terrible has happened have an automatic reflex for anger the moment she sees her child is fine?
I guess it’s a strange kind of love.