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

A Gift.

The wait is over. The anticipation, the worry, the uncertainty...

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.

27 comments:

  1. What wonderful pictures and so great to have you all back together again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yay! *sniff* What a wonderful New Year's/Christmas Gift!! Peace out!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a wonderful ending! I'm so happy for you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Olga,
    I'm so happy for you! Normal is sweet and good and right. You all look so good.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Normal never looked so good! : ) Thanks for sharing Alex's homecoming. It sounds like he's home at exactly the right time. : )

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great Post Olga ... u got me choked up a bit...
    glad ur all together, ALex is blessed to have you for parents he is going to be better then good, going to be a good new year and beyond!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh Olga! I'm so happy for you. I cry tears of joy for you and your family; the big homecoming, how sweet it is.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Olga,
    Congratulations. A new start and new beginging, very exciting. What a wonderful way to start the new year off.
    tom

    ReplyDelete
  9. Olga- Happy New Year! It looks like you got a GREAT start to the year there- awesome stuff. Great pics too!

    ReplyDelete
  10. You have me all choked up, I'm so happy for you and your family!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am so pleased to hear he's home. I wish for new beginnings for all for you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a wonderful Christmas present. You nearly have me crying in the middle of the office.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The gift of family is boundless; I wish you all the best!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Wow what a great story...back together once again after almost a year of seperation. Heartbreaking he couldn't say bye to his buddies but it's great that he's home now. Tall kid.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Steve - NW runner8/1/07 13:23

    Wow, wonderful, blessed. I'm deeply touched and very happy for your family. I hope to meet Alex this year. Love is the ulimate joy in life.

    ReplyDelete
  16. olga, i am in tears. i am crying in my cubicle at work, silent tears streaming down my face, i am so so so happy for you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  17. That is a very moving story. I have never heard that christmas quote before thanks for sharing it.

    ReplyDelete
  18. We're happy for you guys! We know Jackson will miss him but we'll pass on the happy thoughts to him for you all.

    Love and hugs from us.

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a beautiful reality, Olga. Your strength and love will never be forgotten.

    ReplyDelete
  20. tag,
    I just got you Olga. See my blog for instructions.
    tom

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm glad he's back home!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Great news Olga. It's great that you finally have your son back home with you.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Olga,

    I think this is the most heartfelt blog entry I've ever read. Alex can have his new start and you and your family can be whole again. Congratulations to Alex for facing his problems and accepting them as his own. Congratulations to you and your family for finding a solution that while very difficult produced an excellent result. Thank you for sharing your emotions and this experience with us. Perhaps in the future we will be able to help others facing these same issues due to your open communication.

    Eric

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous10/1/07 12:38

    Thanks for sharing this, Olga. I have two boys about the same age as yours and I got very emotional reading your story. I am also a HS guidance counselor and am always interested in hearing about happy endings with adolescents who are struggling. It sounds like the school that Alex attended really helped him. Your family made a tough decision to send him there and made a lot of sacrifices to help Alex. Very, very courageous. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  25. A beautiful post, Olga. My warmest congratulations to you that your family is reunited. What a great way to start the New Year!

    Kind regards,

    Jean

    ReplyDelete
  26. What a wonderful reunite. I'm very happy for your family!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Oh my gosh, Olga!! What a phenomenal gift your family received for Christmas! I haven't been posting/reading for a couple of weeks and missed this. I don't know the history behind why he was apart from your family, but I'm thrilled for you that he seems to be healed now. He seems to have become a very grounded young man, and you must be so proud of him. Isn't it usually the most difficult paths that bring us to the greatest reward?

    ReplyDelete