We worry through our pregnancies. Will I miscarry? Will my baby be healthy? Will it have down syndrome? A healthy heart? A disability? And then by some insane miracle most of us have healthy babies. We breath a sigh of relief at their arrival and then turn our concerns to SIDS, kidnapping, autism and a whole host of other tragic maladies. If we make it through those tense few years, we should be allowed to let our guard down and relax a bit... right?
Wrong. My guess is that any parent of a teenager or a grown child knows that the worry does not cease. The love for your child, the fear for their well being does not surrender with the numbers of candles on a birthday cake.
Last night a police officer awoke us at 3:30 am. He rang the bell of our home and inquired about next of kin. Next of kin for someone who used to live in this home and who shares the same last name of our landlords. Presumably, their adult child. We provided the officer with all of the information that we could to put him in touch with the owners of our house.
We went to bed believing that our sweet landlady was receiving word that her son had passed tragically. The worst moment of one's life. The moment we all picture in our heads. The car accident. The drowning. The overdose. The murder. Anything is possible in the imagination of a parent. And the thing of it is, it is not fantasy. These things happen, they happen every day. Children get cancer. Teenagers drink themselves to death. Families die in car accidents. It is reality. A fact of life that is simply out of our control.
We were relieved to find out that our landlord's 29 year old son merely fractured his skull after some accident in the middle of the night. He will survive. We know nothing more. Of course I speculate that there is more to the story. An attempted suicide. An alcoholic carelessly leaning over his balcony with a bottle of Jack in hand. Who knows. The fact is, his parents arrived at the hospital with almost no information about their son's prognosis, and they are now thanking their lucky stars that their boy is alive. But whats next? They will scratch their heads and wonder what they can do to steer their son out of harm's way in the future. How can they protect him from his own stupidity, or from random dumb luck?
Truth be told they can't. None of us can. At some point we must let go of our children and pray for the best. Cross our fingers and hope that we will be the lucky ones, the ones who never receive that call in the middle of the night....