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City Sidewalks

Friday, December 25, 2015

Twinkling lights, laughter, and raindrops, filled the small downtown area of the beautifully lit City of Bridges this Christmas Eve. I watched as families with shopping bags overflowing with last minute gifts smiled, puddled jumped, and danced, beneath the gigantic Christmas Tree in the town square.

Inside of my car I was insulated from it all. We drove with a purpose, slowly, block by block. Raindrops would splatter on the windshield obscuring our view, but we searched in spite of the distractions.

We drove by the homeless that were huddled together waiting for shelters to open. We studied the faces, the posture, the stance, of those we saw. None belonged to the man I was looking for. None were my son. None belonged to the boy-man with many challenges in life that led to his choice to live in the maze of pavement he now calls home. 

At one point, against advice, I jumped from the car to speak with several of the people that make the streets their home. They knew my son, most do because of his ability to befriend anyone anywhere, but they hadn't seen him in weeks. I begged them to please ask him to call his mom if they should run across him.

I kept listening to the voicemail left several days earlier, "Mom I've been in and out of the hospital for the last few weeks. I wanted to check in. I love you." He's always checked in. He might go for weeks at a time, but he's always checked in, especially for holidays, special events, and then again just to say hello.

Finally with darkness falling we left the city for the suburbs, back home. Part of me was hoping he would be there waiting, although I knew he wouldn't be, but the heart of a mom never gives up hope for her children.

When we arrived home lights were out, no one was there. My heart sank. Thoughts of him occupied my mind all last night, and then again today. I checked all of the jails, the hospitals, and, finally gathered the strength to call the coroner's office. I had to leave a message and a detailed description of the boy I carried on my back for two years as a baby, and as I described the red, heart shaped, birthmark on the back of his neck as tears rolled down my cheek.

The voicemail haunts me. He sounded so hollow, beaten down, and hopeless. It made our search all the more fervent. The more we looked the more I felt the hope drain from my spirit, and the more I felt my heart break. What scares me most is the pain he feels. He feels worthless, less than, and unwanted. I've read journals he left behind and I know he wants to leave this Earth and be free from the obstacles he faces.

We'll be out again this weekend looking for the curly headed smiling guy with the infectious laugh, and we will wait for the return call from the coroner.

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