My 16 year old son is usually sunshine and smiles but yesterday, after being back at school for the first day after Thanksgiving break, he was quiet and almost sad. He said school was fine and it was good seeing his friends again, but he didn’t talk like he usually does.
I found this in the car scrawled in my son’s writing:
One day we’ll part,
In different worlds,
Not so different,
Not the same,
You’ll have change,
I will stay the same,
You’ll have wonder,
I will stay the same,
You’ll have wisdom,
I will see the wonders of the ages,
Except that I will miss you,
My heart a broken mess.
I knew where this was going. Friends mean everything to a teen. Their friends are the center of their universe. They think though their hearts. They bond friendships that will last forever – or so it seems.
After not seeing him for about an hour I went searching just to make sure he was ok.
I found Garrett, not on his computer, or iPhone but painting. He almost always writes poetry when something is on his mind. I find scraps of paper with free verse in the clothes dryer, in books, in the car and just about everywhere. He also paints to get out emotions he is trying to deal with.
I found him in front of a canvas he has painted over and over until the paint has become thick as a pancake. “I hate the fact that my friends are going to die before I do. They’re going to get old and I’m going to have to leave their lives because I won’t age like they do. It sucks mom. It isn’t fair.” He looked at me with sad eyes.
“Your friends are going through the same thing only sooner than you are.” I told him.
“Some have already lost parents and grandparents. A few have lost friends and siblings. It leaves holes that are hard to imagine.”
“I’d die if anything happened to you or dad.” He looked at me with so much love and sadness that it broke my heart.
I put my hand on his shoulder. “You won’t die. You just remember and know the love is still there. You find strength. You keep the memory of the person who died and live to make them proud of you. The memories are always yours.”
“It’s just hard,” he said.
“I know, but you have a long way to go. I’ve loved and cherished my friends over the years. I feel honored to have known them. Their path isn’t the same as ours. Their lives are full and rich and wonderful. They have options we can’t even imagine.”
“Mom, by the time I’m 30 I’ll have to start backing away because I’m not going to age like they will.” The frustration in his voice was clear.
“It isn’t that simple Garrett. You’ll keep connections with some of your most trusted friends. They’ll understand. There are ways to deal with it and work around it.”
“Your friends, the ones you have when you were my age are all gone.”
“I still miss them sometimes baby. It isn’t always easy.” I told my son. It wasn’t easy but one grew to accept it. Not like it, but accept it.
“Sometimes I wish we were regular humans. You know, normal people,” said my son.
“We’re normal enough.” I had to smile. Normal for modern suburban Vampires.
“My friends are going to go away.”
“They’ll be in your heart forever.”
“It isn’t the same.” He gave me a very very very sad look that broke my heart.
“I know honey. I wish I had an answer for you but I don’t.” And I still don’t.
I could have told him to be proud to be a Vampire etc etc etc. He is and it is all he knows, but sometimes it is ok to let your teen brood and ponder life and love and death. They need to explore those feelings – and as a parent you can be open to their thoughts and ideas. Give them the support they need and a safe place to go if they have questions or just want to talk.
Just listen. Sometimes that is all they need.