What had happened to our real mom was something my sister and I wouldn’t find out for two years after she’d left—after, for us, Life 3.0 had begun. During those two years we heard not so much as a peep from our mother. We didn’t know if she was dead, or kidnapped, or had runaway, or what. No phone call. No note. No visit in the middle of the night. No secret, coded, critical little communique that I was forever desperately searching to discern. Just … silence. Nothing.
As gone as gone gets.
To this day, whenever I see on TV or read about parents who have a child who’s been abducted or disappeared, I think, “God, I can’t imagine how that feels.” And then remember that, actually, I can.
And you don’t even want to be my wife coming home from somewhere later than she said she’d be back. Poor thing. If she’s, like, an hour late from somewhere, and didn’t call so I wouldn’t worry, I can totally milk my Serious Abandonment Issues to get free foot rubs out of her for a week.
It’s wrong, I know.
As it turned out, my mother hadn’t “disappeared” at all. She had, instead, been all along living and working (as a librarian!) only a few miles away from our house. For those whole two years, she’d essentially been right up the street from my house. Upon reentering our lives (“Son,” my dad said to me one day after I’d come home from a Little League baseball practice, “your mother called”—and just like that my legs gave out from underneath me), my mom explained to me how she had needed to get away to “find” herself; it turned out that, as she put it, “God never wanted me to be a mother.” And her idea whilst finding herself had been to remain utterly hidden from the children whom God never intended her to have, so as not to interfere with my sister and I settling into the life that God apparently did intend for us as a correction to his earlier mistake. It was right around the time of her Big Return that my sister and I also learned that our father had, in fact, known all along where our mother was—he’d been in regular contact with her, we learned—but that he never told us what he knew, because he felt it would be less painful for us to imagine that our mother somehow couldn’t communicate with us than it would be to know that she could, but simply chose not to. He was dead wrong about that—any closure beats no closure—but you can’t blame a guy for trying.
My sister ditched out of our home when she was but fifteen (and without question that was the Suddenly Missing Immediate Family Member that wounded me the most). I managed to gut it out until a couple of months into my seventeenth year.
And then—early out of high school, living in big city sixty miles away, trying to sell encyclopedias door-to-door in a ghetto neighborhood—my Fun Life Ride really began. (You can read a little bit about that new life of mine in my post, Labor Day, and Me Not Getting Killed by a Dealer/Pimp.)
Thanks to all of you who read this series, and for your many loving comments about it. They’ve meant a great deal to me.