“You don’t know me,” he says.
His words cut like a knife. His face displays the pain and anguish behind the words causing my heart that I thought could not hurt any more to ache deeper.
I can’t cry. We’re in a public place and I don’t like to draw too much attention to myself – at least not more than I already have raising my voice to be heard over his hurting and hurtful words.
His countenance portrays the fact that this has been marinating inside him for some time. His words betray the truth that he has rehearsed them in his mind for some time. His wry grin says he is relieved to finally get this out into the open and wound the one who wounds him.
He refuses to hear apologies or explanations calling them excuses. I realize there is no forgiveness in his heart today. I realize it is not one incident that causes this pain. This is someone I have failed. I failed and am failing to live up to his expectations.
It hurts because I thought I knew what those expectations are and thought I was doing better. Maybe I am doing better, but better is not enough. Maybe the expectations are too high. If they are unreal, they are real to him and my failure to meet them causes real hurt.
We finally end this session and go out to our cars. He reminds me that he has my birthday present and he brings it to me. He brings me coffee. It is the coffee from the store in his town that my wife really likes.
He leaves. We exchange pain-ridden “I love you.” I rest my head on my steering wheel and weep.
This is not fictional. It is not an excerpt from my novels. It happened between me and my son. It happened one day after I observed the funeral of a young man who committed suicide. I heard hurting teens talk about their pain, not only from the loss of their friend, but from bullying and hurtful comments because they do not meet someone else’s expectations of who they should be.
I was moved and bewildered by their description of their friend who was kind, caring and compassionate. He always wore a smile and often encouraged his friends when they were down. Then, he got down from what his family believes were incidents of bullying. He dropped out of school and went into counseling. After that, he determined there was no hope and ended the suffering violently and permanently.
Courageous people shared their pain and experiences with expressions of love and respect. But underneath, you could hear the one big question, “Why didn’t we know?” No one admitted it, but you could feel it from a few as it is always a part of grieving, “I failed to do enough or this wouldn’t have happened.” It’s too late to save him, now. But for those hurting young men and women, it’s not too late. We heard what they need and we know from their own words that they need someone to listen and care.
The truth is I haven’t done enough for my son. I have fallen short of his expectations. I believe I could have done more, but have no assurance it would be enough. It’s too late to explain or apology to “fix” the hurt, just like it is too late to save the young man who took his life. But I heard what he needs.
What I do know is that he needs me. He said so. I have failed to make him feel respected. I haven’t spent enough time with him. I know this because he told me. I know that for him, texting him or calling him will help, but it will not be enough if personal contact does not accompany the calls and texts.
Even though it hurt, the timing corrupt, and the method and tone inappropriate, I needed it. I fell short of the glory of God and hurt one of God’s creations. I will need God’s help and God’s love to try. I have no guarantees it will be enough, but that assessment is out of my control. I can take what I know and show more love and respect. By doing this, not only will I be helping my hurting son, but I will also be honoring God.
It’s too late to change the past, but hopefully, it’s not too late to act on what we heard.
I write about what I'm thinking or what I've imagined in an effort to regain that childhood imagination and marry with my many years of real experiences. I'm getting better at it the more I write.I am a published author of two romantic intrigue novels.My books can be found at Amazon.com or if you want a personalized copy, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.