The hubby and I have just returned from a two week trip to South America. We are celebrating 25 years of marriage and it is the longest we have gone away from our boys. They’ve just held down the fort for two weeks, Michael exercising his young adult wings and grandparents checking in on them.
It has been a long day; it’s nearly 8 p.m. here and the hubby and I have been up and traveling since the equivalent of 2 a.m. It’s hot and we are hungry, yet all we want is to spend time with our young men. We pick up food and take it out onto the patio. It’s cooler here than inside the kitchen. Michael and the hubby start to swap stories. Michael shares what he learned about how difficult it is to run a house. The hubby talks about traffic in a country south of the equator. I notice that our table is not complete. Blake, who was preparing his own meal, has not materialized outside. I peek inside the kitchen and see him sitting by himself at the table.
“Blake?” He is quiet. “Blake, are you going to join us outside?”
Blake’s head is down and he is somberly eating away, appearing more like he is forcing himself to eat than enjoying any of it.
“We’d love you to join us.”
“I…I can’t. Bugs…”
“There aren’t any bugs that I can see tonight.”
“It’s just. I have so many anxieties. Eating outside brings up too many. I don’t want to stand up to them tonight.” He places his head in his hands.
“You don’t need to. Thank you for telling me. I’ll miss you. See you after dinner.”
I go back outside to join Michael and the hubby, who are still engrossed in conversation. Blake finishes his meal alone at the kitchen table. I ache just a bit for the piece of our family that is not here and for how I can see that Blake is struggling. Yet I’m glad he could put it into words, without screaming, without melting down as he might have in the past. He is learning to put his struggles into words. He is learning to share that he is anxious and that he doesn’t have the strength to challenge his fears right now. That is growth. Perhaps another day his strength will win out.