When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.
The heart of the difference is not ability or even talent, but desire
The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott
Sunday, January 07, 2007
We started driving on Friday at 3 pm. It's been poring rain along Columbia River Gorge, then dry and windy as we entered Eastern OR and Eastern WA. In Spokane it started snowing. Hard. The car was slowly making its way forward, with no winter tires, no chains. Roads were empty of travelers - as well as cleaning trucks. Ice, snow, horrific conditions. We kept on going, but after 2 windy passes and a couple of bad turns into the snowy side of the road we made a decision to stop for the night (11 pm) some 80 miles away from Thompson Falls, MT. The motel was the worst I ever saw, but what did we care?
Morning came at 6 am, snow blizzard stopped, it got a bit warmer, what helped with road conditions. 2 more passes, and we made a call to Jim O. (Alex's family rep) that we are near. Oleg is cheerful, I am quiet. We drive up the mountain to school's location and enter the office. Two boys are sitting on the floor packing boxes, and I spot something familiar. They tell us - do you want boxes mailed or take with you? We are expected, nobody even asks our names. They send for Alex and ask us to stand back a bit. Everything is going non-stop by their schedule, with kids entering, adults on radio. We see our boy in the window walking in to the office. My heart sinks. He walks in - big bear hug! He knew we are coming - for a visit. We stand there, not knowing how to break it to him. Do you want to go home? What do you mean? We mean, like, home...unless you rather not...Shock. Smile. Still shock. Are you serious?
Yeah, home, no, not staying, just let me say bye...Officials say - no good bye, policy. Here is your stuff. You know the rules. Disbelief...no goodbye? They are my brothers! My best buddies! I can't leave like that! But nobody already pays much attention. Alex, you are pulled. It's the rule. Go, man. A handshake, a hug...we walk to the car. Some kids are out cleaning the snow, they yell - wazup?! Home? Dude, awesome! Peace out! He asks them to say bye to his Family. Yes, his Family. His best pals, his brothers, fathers. Then he turns his face to me, opens his arms and swamps me in, crying. It's unfair. We drive, and he occasionally says - Tucker...Jackson...Jake. How can I leave them with no hug? We drive to this little town of Thompson Falls where we arranged a meeting with his Family Rep Jim. We were so lucky to have Jim with us since day 1. He is highly energetic and enthusiastic, he punches ALex in a chest with every second word and says - fresh start, man, from the scratch. You know the rules. Peace out, write a letter, I make sure it delivered. They'll understand. You'll meet in real world. You can do it! Remember the prayer - serenity to accept things I can not change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. I am trying not to cry too hard. Last favor - we get addresses of two of his Family Fathers (young men who live with boys 24/7 in shifts) in a near-by town and drive there for a final visit. Bitter-sweet and short. We are going home...
The roads are much cleaner, and the sun is bright. It's a good day, the day that supposed to be on Christmas Eve (Russian), the one that has to be when we get our son back. He talks little, and we let him grief. I caress his hands, and he finally falls asleep, overwhelmed with emotions. Oleg asks me if I feel weird to have Alex around. I think for a second and say - no, it feels normal. Not even exciting, not crazy. Normal, the way it is, like there was no 11 months and 2 days. My son is behind me in the car. What's weird about it?
We enter OR, it's after 5 pm, and Alex, the "night owl", starts talking, suddenly with wordy diarrhea. We all talk, about seminars, our experiences, what was interesting or "brain-washing", other kids, their past lives, their struggles, what he thinks it's going to be like - he is not afraid, he is strong, he believes it was the only thing that saved him. He can stand tall and say to anybody at the school - dude, yes, I was in a facility, and it's good. Yes, we couldn't talk unless permitted. Yes, we walked in files. No looking at the girls. Simple food. Sharing, thinking, helping. It gave me time and space, with no outside signals, to listen to myself. I am ready to live now...
He doesn't know we moved. Oleg planned to tie his eyes closed and walk him in, I was apprehensive about it. Alex says - it's ok, I like surprises. Life is rarely full of real ones. Today is a day of surprises.
We walk him in and sit him on a couch, he pulls a hat off - Stephen is crying, and Charlie is jumping and licking his face.Whoa! It's new! Bro, don't cry, I am home! Look, we have a dog now! Can I walk around? Is it a real house, like not an appartment? (I know how much I cost you this year). It's cozy. It's homey. Dude, I like it, I like it more than before! No, I am not upset you moved - fresh start, from the scratch, nothing old. Good deal. Lets eat...
Moments later the two of my sons are sitting on the couch, laughing at some magazine pictures, like they never split for 11 months and 2 days. And this feels normal. Not exciting, not weird, not new, not wondeful, not anything of what I should feel. It is normal. We are home. Together.
p.s. We have this saying, when you go to sleep on the night before Christmas, make your outmost unthinkable wish and dream it. I couldn't come up with any. I've got everything I need.