In my daydreams, we meet by accident at the grocery store or another public space. He’s shopping alone, momentarily unguarded. Desiring to prolong the chance encounter, I offer to buy him a cup of coffee. To my surprise and extreme pleasure, he accepts.
Exchanging polite niceties while our order is processed, we adjourn to a table and café chairs. As soon as we’re seated, though, a darkening mask begins to roll across his countenance; I’ve seen it before — it’s his regret showing. He’s doubting his decision to sit with me, if only briefly. Reflexively, he lifts his smartphone, studies the screen, as if begging to be reminded of a forgotten appointment.
He’s already offered the obligatory (but non-specific) “life is grand” recitative. I have no will to probe or challenge him. I’m weary of small talk. Nearing my mid-60s, Time has become an enemy; I’m eager to cut to the chase, to jettison all baggage that limits intimacy and forestalls honest communication.
Yet I entertain no illusion my manner will successfully disarm him. He’s no longer the “baby” of the family. He’s a thirty-year-old man whose life choices have driven him down a road I am ill-equipped to understand. It’s a strange and twisted path that (despite his denials and disclaimers) doesn’t sync with who he once was — with all his family knew him to be. He’s had more than six years to fine-tune his defensive verbal arsenal and to gird the perimeter of his onerous “privacy” zones.
I operate differently — frequently indelicate, I admit. My maternal instincts didn’t instantly cease when my daughters and sons reached their majority. Having nurtured each one beneath my heart, in my arms and at my side, my Mama Bear inclination to protect my cubs is deeply ingrained. Urging my son to rethink some “life choices” was heartfelt counsel, grounded in my intense desire for his good.
And six years of estrangement have gone by now.
Sitting with him (in my daydream scenario), I’m ready to throw down the gauntlet. I want him to blame me, the outspoken one, rather than punishing (by his absence) the entire family. He should confront me, list my damnable transgressions, identify each perceived slight that justifies his current alienation!
Were he to name each sin, I would cop to it without hesitation. There was a day my arrogance would have dictated otherwise, but having acknowledged my own waywardness (prodigality), I’ve found sufficient Grace to accept culpability for perceived wrongs in the same manner I own my actual sins.
So I would listen to his naming of my sins, I would press him not to hold back. No defense, no excuses. I’d be hopeful his enumeration could work a miracle, somehow cleansing a measure of the bitterness he has nurtured in his soul.
In my daydreams, the final frames remain unclear. Resolution? Unknown, but I cling to God’s promise to “… restore the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25) Words of hope for a mother whose son has wandered far from Home.