02 April 2008


it is early morning, on my day off. i cannot sleep. a few minutes ago, i slowly, achingly surfaced from a nightmare, crying and bereft.

in the dream it was over a quarter century ago. my son was about eight, and he had been reported as kidnapped. unlike most of my dreams, which metamorphose fairly readily into something else, this one lingered on and on, long enough that i endured at least three days' of increasing torture, uncertainty, grief, and sometimes violent hysteria, the very progression that any devoted parent goes through. hindered by lack of a ransom note or access to new information, by police stonewalling, by utter helplessness, as time passed i knew with cold, fearful certainty that when a kidnapping goes unsolved for more than a day, the odds increase geometrically that the child is already dead.

the internal battle between unreasoning hope, and dread certainty, shredded me. the detective assigned to watch over me was useless, uninformed, attentive only to eating and watching sports on tv. i was single (as i was in real life back then), with no mate to hold and be held by, just my own thoughts and fears and memories of my sweet son, whom i loved (in the dream and in reality) more than anything else on earth. at one point i even knew that if the worst happened and he were found dead, i would move heaven and earth to find and kill his tormentors, no matter what the cost to me.

how could such a horrible dream mirror reality? because back then, i was systematically being kept from my son by his selfish and vindictive mother (i'd left the marriage, but not my son), and by his redneck patriarchal alcoholic texas cowboy stepfather. their interference led me to seek a legal change from our previous joint custody agreement, to sole custody. in conservative arizona, i didn't have a chance. sole custody went to my ex. my son, caught between adults in conflict, did what he had to do to maintain his sanity -- he aligned himself with the ones with whom he lived. my visits with him diminished, then vanished for five endless years. he'd literally been taken from me. but i persisted in letting him know with regular letters and phone calls (in the face of much resistence and abuse) that i loved him, and that my door was always, always open to him.

later, as he grew into adolescence and assertiveness, he spent two summer vacations with me, and even came to live with me for a couple of years. it was a mixed blessing, because now i had to try to undo and heal all the neglect and abuse he'd endured in his mother's home, with him often resisting the limits and boundaries that should have been there all along. but the teaching took hold, and today he is himself a devoted husband and father. i am more proud of him than words can express. his courage, persistence, and essential goodness helped him to not only survive, but thrive.

but the other part of today's reality is this: he lives far away, and i only hear from him by phone two or three times a year: our birthday (he was born on my 30th), father's day, christmas. no photos, no personal news in letters or cards or emails. i can't change it -- he is an adult, making his own choices. pyschologically, i'm certain that there must be understandable reasons for his distance. but it still hurts.

so in a way the uncertainty and fear of that terrible cauldron of time in the past, live on. and i dream.

1 comment:

  1. I seem to be bumping into posts that run parallel with my life.

    I spent 6 years getting sole custody of my children; the joint custody was abused, etc., - too long of a story to put here of course.

    I'm sorry to hear that you miss your child so much - that little is done to get in touch with you (from what I read).

    You might have to make a trip to where he lives; you might have to make that gesture to iron out things...........

    I just spoke to a person tonight who also has a similar situation - his son is now 17; he can't find him, and is frantic. The mother is casual about the whole thing - a sad story indeed.

    Your son might be trying to prove he's a 'man' - and in so doing, he's not coming to you because you're not coming to him - like a 'stand-off' possibly?

    I do hope this works out - time is short...we need to take steps as I had to, and I fought hard for 6 years; lots of tears - lots of attorney fees, but I finally won.

    Take care......