When he'd regained some mastery of himself we walked toward the door. I told him I'd be waiting for him with open arms. His head snapped up and turned so he could see me. "What? What did you say?" I repeated, "I'll be waiting for you with open arms." He said, "What does that mean?" I opened my arms and told him it meant I would be waiting to put my arms around him again. He nodded to show he understood, and seemed different as he climbed into the car. His frame of mind seemed different, and that change took much of the suffering out of leaving. I could feel it.
I talked with both boys a number of times while they were gone. On one of the particularly trying days I was trying to comfort Scott, when suddenly he said resolutely: "Remember, Mom, open arms." I repeated back to him, "Yes, Scott. Open arms."
It's become a sort of talisman between us. When we say goodbye we'll briefly hold out arms open and mouth, 'open arms' to each other.
The other day in the course of my job my route took me past an Adventist Church: Open Arms. I told Scott later that I'd thought of him when I drove past. He said, "That must be a nice church."
Since this is birthday time for him I was thinking of him the other day as an infant, napping on our bed. I heard him cry through the monitor and so went upstairs to get him. I opened the door, and through his tears shot a look of pure joy. It was like a river running into the ocean. Laughter and smiles even as he was carried by the momentum of crying.
These are my desert island memories. If I was to be stranded on a desert island and only had a few images to keep with me, these would be among them.
That, and the moment that Scott's teacher Rob read this to him at his 'graduation' (from 5th grade to middle school):
How to be Scott Deborason
You need to have a deeply inquisitive mind. But you also
need to be willing to be patient. You discover new things
and you think about them for a long time. You must let
things mull over in your head and more specifically your heart
until they feel like they will explode from your chest. But make
sure that you always find a way to share what is in your heart,
it lets others see you in a way they never imagined.
Make sure you are willing to work hard and deal with frustration.
When frustration comes make sure that you don't tell anyone for a while.
Make us pull it out of you. But make sure you know that you'll feel
so much better once others are there to lend a hand or an ear.
Remember to have the nerve to stand up on a chair in front of
the class and read your stories with enthusiasm and recklessness.
GREAT SNAKES! man you have a funny side.
But most of all never forget that you have so much to offer the world.
Never let the world forget that. Keep pestering us until we fully
understand how great you are.