“Mom, where do you keep the bungee cords?”
I pause from reading the latest subprime mess story in the Times to consider this somewhat Calvin-and-Hobbesian request. There is a gaggle of boys who’ve landed in my drive, bringing with them some bicycles, several scooters, a skateboard or two, and a wheelchair. (I do not ask about the wheelchair; I assure you, it’s best not to go there.)
Briefly, I consider how their father might answer; but I’ve been a tomboy, and I well know the attraction of a towrope.
As parents, we all want to keep our children safe from harm, and it’s always a challenge to decide how much rope (or bungee cord) we should allow. At some point, we have to cede control, and let our children be who they are, even if we ourselves would have made different decisions for them.
Last week was a tough week. Our family said goodbye to a promising young cousin who had been struggling with addiction. His parents had hope that he would beat it and have many more, brighter days. Instead, we gathered at his funeral. I think my sister said it best; this hurts on so many levels: as a mother, as a sister, as a wife, cousin and friend.
I’m not a religious person, but the priest was inspiring. He reminded us that the only things that really carry us into the next life are faith, hope and love – not big houses, flat screen TVs or MP3 players. (Here, my sister turned to me and said, “He’s talking about you, you know,” but I was already thinking that I couldn’t imagine being separated from my iPod.)
A friend of mine had a grandfather who lived into his 90s. This man told his grandson that, each day, he woke up and recognized it as another gift. I’ve always thought this was such a great way of looking at things. Regardless of what we have to face each day – the stress, the personal struggles, the disappointments, the surprises, the good news, the happy moments – life is a pretty cool thing.
We can never make sense of losing someone like this, someone so young from addiction. The best way to keep him alive is to remember him with love and humor and to live our lives, to wake up every day and realize that it is another gift to see a boy on a scooter towing another boy in a wheelchair with a bungee cord.