A quiet ride home from practice tells me everything. She cannot open up or it will spill out. It breaks my heart. I find myself peppering her with question after question. It is like I just can’t stop myself. I am desperately wanting to be her safe spot. I want to hold her while she cries her tears.
She holds firm and it is becoming clear to me. I cannot fix this. I cannot plow my way in and give her comfort. I must let her keep it here, in a secret spot of her head where no one knows her doubts but her. She must make this hurdle and grow inside. I must pepper her with tools of encouragement and success. I must be her biggest fan.
* * *
In the classroom they talk about the shooting that happened a few miles from our house. In our old neighborhood, a nice neighborhood. The shock of it still rippling through whispers and fear. Do I know you neighbor? Do I trust you?
He asks me if I am mad at him for talking about the shooting. With the heaviest of hearts and a sigh that escapes my lips, I explain my no. I’m hurt for him, for us. As he stands here talking about what he heard at school I am incredibly aware that he is growing up. That I can no longer shield him as fully as I have from the world. It’s hard. It is scary.
I want him to believe for one day longer that the good in the world far outweighs the bad. You can always find something good.
* * *
He comes home from men’s group and talks about the folly he sees in the idea that as a man you are the protector. He glances over his shoulder and sees clearly that Zach’s death humbled him in the hardest of ways.
Together we wrestle with wanting to be both protected and protector.
* * *
Always. Here. From there.
Always cheering for you.