Today what is on my mind are the kids who are too old to be called kids. Our teenagers. I am of an age where many of my friends have teenage kids. I myself have a teenage stepdaughter who is technically an adult now. The most amazing thing of all is that she is actually acting like an adult. She is so responsible; working full time and getting promotions at work. She has decided not to attend her senior year of high school, which took me a few months to get over. But now I am at peace with it. At least as much at peace as I can be when the decision is so fresh. While all of her peers finish up their senior years. I know I cannot control her. I remember being young and free. No one could tell me what to do. I made my own choices, many of which my family were not fond of. I had some of the most amazing experiences of my life doing things my family advised me against. And those who opposed me I viewed almost as enemies. I do not want to be my stepdaughter’s enemy. I want to be someone she can talk to and remembers fondly. Someone she comes to visit even though she doesn’t have to. I have faith in her, and I am so proud of her. And that is what matters most.
Teenagers can have such extreme struggles. Three years ago my close friend’s son committed suicide. Although he and I were not close I had known him since he was born. I have known his mama since we were 14. I know and lived with his dad (co housing). I know his grandmother and two of his uncles, one on each side of the family. I know his stepdad. I watched him grow and he had a special place in my heart, as most adorable, authority questioning, troublemaking, sweet boys do. I realized when he died that I had written a story for him in my head. The story of his life once he grew up. How he would have a rocky youth and young adulthood, only to come through it, meet up with a woman who saw his light shining through. How he would turn that resentment at society into a productive force and become a giving member of society who would work to make things better in our home area. To have that ripped away, from me, from our home town, from his mom, from his grandma, from his dad, from all his family, from his friends, from everyone who knew him. From the universe. That future disappeared from reality and now only lives in the minds and hearts of those who love him, who sit, like I do, crying at my kitchen table three years after the height of his struggle.
Another young man in our circle committed suicide two tears before that. The son of friends. Both of these young men were at our wedding when they were adolescents. Hanging out with my stepdaughter’s brother and another young man who is very important to me. We have photos in our wedding album of them, all sitting in a circle, laughing at things 14 year old boys find funny.
And now another young person who story is written in my head is struggling. And although these young men probably never thought of me when they tried to recall who they were important to, I think of them. Day after day, year after year. For those who are gone I mourn. I remember, I try to release. For their parents I hold peace for them in my mind. As a goal. A sometime goal. I see the change in them. I see the sameness in them; times they are their old selves for one laugh. And I hold that in my mind and call it up. For those who struggle today I mourn. I try to hold peace for them in my heart. And I wonder. And wonder. What are they feeling, what are they thinking? And is there anything we can do? I feel disconnected when I think of all the things I kept from my parents at their age. Although I feel an emotional connection, I do not truly know what these teenagers’ lives are like. I know the things suitable to tell parents, or friends of parents. I don’t know what is under that. Or what they or their friends said or did last week. The intimate and tender parts of their lives they often share only with friends or partners. Some don’t share these things with anyone.
When I think and feel about these things, which is quite often in these last 5 years or so, my insides feel so soft and swirling. It is hard to stay grounded in it because there is so little I can do.
These teenagers, these young adults, their stories swirl around my head. How they differ, how they are similar. What choices, what decisions, what bits of chance, made each go the way it did? I have no idea. I don’t know that anyone does. I can’t point to anything in any case that seems to set it apart. Life is full of struggle and beauty. And randomness of fate that can be devastating. These young folks are the future and the present. When they are children we feel we have control and we can feel so connected to them. As they age it is a whole different situation.
I have no answers. I have no succinct way to sum up this post. No silver lining. I am just swirling inside. I am holding space for the pain, the uncertainty, and for the hopeful, maybe, someday Peace.