Yesterday afternoon we had a guest over. He is the father of a friend of our son, Chandler. I must say that after sending Chandler away to an out-of-state residential treatment center (RTC) three weeks ago, that we are not on the best terms with some of his friends. To be sure, a few have been really sweet, and a couple have stopped by with encouraging notes for us to send to Chandler. Others have expressed extreme displeasure and disrespect towards me. Even some of the parents aren’t exactly happy with us, because our actions blew the whistle on activity I don’t think they even wanted to know was going on, and now they have to face into whether their child might need intervention as well.
The dad we had over yesterday is totally supportive, primarily because he had to send his older son away to an RTC and is more than willing to offer us encouragement, advice, and help prepare us for what is ahead. In fact, a comment he made is what drove us to choose this subject as our weekly theme. In a text message after our visit, he wrote: “I am with you for this journey.” Marti cried when she read it.
“I am with you for this journey.” What does that mean? It means we are not alone. It means he will walk alongside us through this difficult experience of parenting. It means that he will be available to us whatever happens. It means that he has walked a similar road already, and though our experiences may not be exactly alike, there will be many things that are in common — many places we will be able to connect where we couldn’t connect with anyone else.
For instance, yesterday I was remembering the feeling I had all day Sunday, three weeks ago, whenever I was around Chandler, or talking with him, or just watching him, knowing that when he awoke the next morning, he would be leaving home for an extended period of time, regardless of what he felt about it, and that was at my choice, and I knew that and he didn’t, and there was no way I could tell him. That was the worst day of my life. I know how Judas felt; I know why he threw his money on the ground and why he went out and hung himself. Our friend, Alan knows that feeling, too. He can walk into the memory with me and know it, and know what he can and cannot say about that. In other words, there are no words sometimes for what someone is going through, especially if you have gone through it. You know what’s going to touch that feeling and what’s not. That’s what it means to be with someone on their journey.
That’s not to say that you cannot walk alongside someone when you haven’t experienced what they are going through. In that case, you will both be going through it for the first time, and most of the time, if you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything. Just be there. That’s one part of what it means to be “yours for the journey.” Stay tuned for more this week.