I flew to Los Angeles last night for a work meeting today. Had dinner at the Bonaventure Brewery, a place buried in the fourth floor bowels of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. I say that because it is the most bizarre hotel I’ve ever been in. It was Huge. Even Trump would have thought so. We walked in at the ground floor entrance, which actually opened out on the second floor of the place. There was no directory, no anything to help us locate the brewery. It was just … kind of amazing.
Anyway, this morning I went to the meeting. The details aren’t important, but it was a meeting I needed to be at with seven or eight of my co-workers. Including my boss and the big, big boss. About an hour into the three hour meeting, I got a text from the Queen Midget. Our older son was “sick again.” He had strep a few weeks ago and … again. He was sick. I texted and asked with what. Congested head, sore throat, nausea. I replied that it sounded like he had the flu. I was relieved. It wasn’t strep again. She agreed.
I thought I was done with that and could return my focus on the meeting. But a few minutes later, she called. He was really sick. He couldn’t stop throwing up and there was the endless diarrhea. He wanted to go to the hospital and none of his friends were around to drive him there.
And what was I supposed to do, I asked.
You’re down there.
Which I was. Sort of. I was in Los Angeles. He was in Long Beach. Even under the best of circumstances, it would have taken 45 minutes for me to get to him. And then there was the fact that I had the rental car and several people were dependent on me to get back to the airport once the meeting was over. (Okay, they could have used Uber.)
I had to be at this meeting. He only had the flu.
The Queen Midget was crying and she was scared. And I knew my kid was too.
I told her he should call 911 if he felt he needed to go to the hospital and nobody was around to take him. She said okay.
I called my son a few minutes later. He had called 911, but in the meantime, his roommate told him he was coming home and our niece who lives and works within about 20-30 minutes said she would check on him and make sure everything was okay. I told him I would do what I could to get down there if he needed me to be there, but he said it was okay with his roommate coming to help and his cousin, too. And besides, he could already hear the sirens.
I told him to let me know if it was anything worse than the flu and I would get there.
I dedicated my life to my two boys for much of the last 20+ years. In the last few years, my primary objective has been to get them to a place where they can be on their own and taking care of themselves. So that I no longer needed to and I could move on to the things I wanted to fill the rest of my life with. I love those two and want nothing but the best for each of them. But it’s now time for them to take on the responsibility of their lives. I crave the opportunity to be free of that responsibility.
A little bit after I confirmed with my son that he didn’t need me, I called our niece and thanked her for doing what she was doing. In talking to her, I said, “Thank you for being there for him.” And it was in the saying of those words that my voice caught. I struggled with holding it together long enough to get those seven words out.
Maybe it was my wife’s fear. Maybe it was the fear my son was experiencing. Maybe it was because I was tired from the travel and the meeting and the stress. But in that moment as I thanked my niece, I realized that my son had needed somebody and she was there for him and I couldn’t even begin to say what that really meant to me. Those seven words — thank you for being there for him — say it, but not really. They don’t even begin to express what a parent feels when one of their children is suffering and they can’t be there for him or her, but somebody else can.
I knew though that he would be fine. That some of this was just blown out of proportion. And he is and he will be. The paramedics showed up, checked his vitals, told him he likely had the flu and his roommate should take him to urgent care. Which he did and that’s what it is. Just a bad case of the flu. But my kid, when he was in the worst throes of it this morning, when he was home by himself, with nobody there to help, said he felt like he was going to die because of how bad the vomiting and the diarrhea was.
No matter how much I may want to do it, it will never be possible for me to cut the final strings of responsibility that comes with being a parent. And that’s okay.
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In other news, Andrew Sullivan is back. On a weekly basis now, he is writing on the state of American politics and culture. Here’s his first entry and it’s a doozy. He summarizes the Trump phenomenon and its horror in a way that I just don’t see in all of the other voices that are out there. I highly encourage you to check out Mr. Sullivan’s weekly entry in our political discourse.
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And in other other news, I flew back home to Sacramento late in the afternoon. I was eager to see what I would see out the window, given the storms and clouds and everything else going on California’s weather these days. It didn’t disappoint. For at least 20 minutes, I just kept taking pictures as we approached home.
I don’t know, maybe I’m drawing a connection that is somewhat ridiculous. Or I’m straining for something that isn’t there.
But after the stresses of the day and worrying about my kid and hearing the fear in my wife’s tears, seeing the beauty of the natural world as I flew home returned me to the awe of these things. I don’t know. Just enjoy the damn pictures. 😉