greatest fearpublished: 2018-02-14
“My mother is sick,” says the 11-year-old boy on the phone, and he hesitates briefly. He says, “sick in the head and in hospital.”
I was supposed to meet with her. She had tickets for the opera. I couldn’t reach her. My own son had her son’s number. He confirmed what I already knew.
The boy is careful to make it sound like she has gone out for groceries. I struggle to find my own response. I want to allow him his grown-upish sense of dignity, his instinct to protect his mother, his bold attempt at carrying the burden alone.
But he is a boy.
“Ah, okay, so where are you now?” I say as cheerily as possible.
“At the neighbours.”
“Could I speak with your neighbour for a minute?”
He drags me via his phone up various stairs, through rooms, back down, outside, looking for the neighbour. I know he is wearing the cap he often wears, over his ginger coloured hair. He is small for his age, fast on his feet in soccer. When he looks at me, his blue eyes tell me there is concern, but that he doesn’t want anyone else to be concerned. I can feels his tension, his desire to keep this simple.
“Wow, your neighbours have a big house,” I say and he says “yeah.”
I piece what happened together. Another psychotic episode. He had been locked out. Got cold. Waited an hour. Then rang the neighbours’ doorbell. He hadn’t wanted to, but had no choice. Dad was away. Mom had passed out.
And so she’s in hospital. In the psychiatric emergency ward. Again.
It’s his will to be strong that endears me, this mother’s son.
I am a mother. And here presented itself my greatest fear. It is why I fought back.