My son is in trouble. He's not a son of my womb, but without a doubt Kenny is a son of my heart. I saw him before I saw his dad thirteen years ago, and I didn't even know Ken had a son. I'd made that long trip home, without my babies, half-out of my mind and starved for love. Kenny told me his dad wasn't home. LOL.
He was a young handsome man, with his dad's dark good looks. Big eyes--all of Ken's babies have big eyes. Ken has tiger eyes though. None of them got those, but they all have startling cow eyes that move you by their sheer depth. I tried to be kind to Kenny, but I was his daddy's strange girlfriend. I don't think he was bowled over by me. He was sixteen back then. Ken had him less than a year. In a very short time he would go away again, amid many sorrows. My own son would be taken from me soon. I would miss them both with a bottomless ache.
I married Ken almost three years later. Kenny was nowhere to be found.
So, I loved this man, Ken. We raised my girl, had a boy and a girl together. One day out of the blue we get a call. It's Kenny, and I see my husbands face shining with love as he talks. I'm so happy I want to jump up and down. Our prodigal on the phone. He asked his dad, "Whatever happened to Claudia?" Ken got to report, "I Married her." I was so moved that he remembered me. He visited us not much later, but beloved, a ghetto life is a hard thing to shake. He went away again. And we grieved him all over.
Everybody gets tired. I don't care how cool the rappers say it is to be "gangsta", our son got tired. Tired of a prodigal's riotous living. We offered him a bit of shelter from the torrential storms in his life. We asked him to come live with us away from the big city. Find his feet. And he did. He got a GED before you knew it, and then this bright, amazing man who had overcome so much went on to college.
But he got tired. It really is possible to get weary doing well, especially when a you're having troubling finding a job, and you miss your kids and girlfriend, and life in Ann Arbor is slow. And even though it's a far cry from the East side of Detroit, living with us had it's own burdens. He grew unhappy. Unhappiness begat despair. We lost him all over again.
Six months and not a word, until a call on Monday saying he's in trouble.
I can't tell you what the trouble is here, but I will say it's something no parent wants for his or her child. We are left devastaed. All of us. We are praying we are momentarily caught in a nightmare from which we will awaken, shaken and grateful it was only a dream, rather than the kind of nightmare that becomes a life.
I read in the novel by Marilynne Robinson, "Gilead," a passage that moved my heart so deeply today. It reads:
"The story of Hagar and Ismael came to mind while I was praying this morning, and I found a great assurance in it. The story says that it is not only the father of a child who cares for its life, who protects is mother, and says that even if the mother can't find a way to provide for it, or herself, provision will be made. At that level it is a story full of comfort. That is how life goes--we send our children into the wilderness. Some of them on the day they were born, it seems, for all the help we give them. Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves. But there must be angels there, too, and springs of water. Even if that wilderness, the very habitation of jackals is the Lords. I need to bear this in mind."
Dear Lord. Kenny was conceived before Ken had started his senior year in high school. His mother was only 16. We all make mistakes, and some of us make big, epic mistakes because we are young, and dumb, and sinful. There is so much blame to cast. So much bread of sorrow to choke down. And yet, I feel that brush of angels wings, hear their rustlings in the atmosphere. I feel the waters of the God springs mingle with the wind and spray a fine mist on my face. God is here with His magnificent--although I'm clueless in understanding it--provision.
I just know He is.
I am grateful that God is with my son in his wilderness, even though the jackals howl, and our souls cry out.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Pray for us.