I spent the start of this weekend annoyed. Annoyed by the disaster that is our bedroom, because my husband bought a flat-screen TV (without asking me if I might want it in our bedroom; no) and mounted it on the wall, which necessitated his building a shelf in his basement workshop so he could use the shelf to hide the unsightly cables dangling from the TV to the floor. And there was sawdust everywhere, tracked from the basement to the second floor and on the cats, who seem to have reveled in rolling in it. Annoyed by the cats, whom I found this morning in compromising poitions both - one in a frying pan licking up the remnants of last night's dinner, and the other on top of the fridge knocking down pill bottles and magnets and photos displayed on the fridge. Annoyed by my children, who had done nothing on Saturday but play video games, despite elder's SAT scheduled for next Saturday. Annoyed by their dirty clothes strewn in a line from the bathroom to their bedrooms. Annoyed by wet, mildewy towels on the floor instead of the towel rack. Just... annoyed.
But then I learned about this boy. This thirteen-year-old boy living just a few hours from us. Same age as my younger. This boy who read an email from his school containing a warning that he was close to failing a class, this boy who must have viewed the email as the last in a series of devastating events, or events not objectively devastating but made so by the immature workings of his thirteen-year-old brain. Who on Wednesday evening left his house without proper clothing just before a significant snowstorm and went no one knew where, where no one knew.
At first I was buoyed by the mass support of strangers helping Cayman Naib, strangers putting up flyers at the mall or actively searching wooded areas in hopes of finding him.
As I was drawn into his family's story my kids kept on playing their video games, oblivious to upcoming SATs or personal hygiene or for that matter Cayman Naib, whom I just now read that they found, and too late. He is gone. Over something or some things so small to me, but so large to him lacking the perspective that years of living will bring. Years now denied him.
Gone. Just like that.
And sure it could have been my boy -- or anyone's boy. But I can't go down that road too far before I get lost. Really, he's everyone's boy, isn't he?
So my house is a mess, and my kids are not making good use of their time, but I hear them upstairs, and they are laughing and joking with each other, and it's suddenly fine, all of it, because there is just now no email to set them off, no pain so great that they must flee the house as a stand-in for fleeing themselves, which of course they can never do, but they don't know that yet, and I feel so goddamn lucky I am breathless.
If I had bumped into Cayman, I would have tried to tell him, "Nothing is as bad as you think it is. Nothing is unfixable. Nothing."
I can only take my own unuttered words to heart, and try to make use of them, and for that, I thank you, Cayman Naib. And I hope that wherever you are, you are free from the sadness and doubt and fear that drove you away from us far too soon.
For Cayman, and Katherine, too