Sunday, March 8, 2015

Everyone's Boy

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


Kathryn said...

Sarah, when you posted about Cayman being found this morning and I read back to see what had happened, I can't describe how I felt. Yes, he is everyone's boy. I have a boy who gets so upset about things that you would think are no big deal, and when I read that he fled his house because he was heart.

Mine has also been so lazy today, playing video games, still in pajamas. I can see him at 13, still being his overly emotional self. Being set off and storming out of the house, irrational. I can't go beyond that. My heart is with Cayman's family.

Jocelyn said...


What a tragedy; your writing does justice to the far ends of life's spectrum, indeed. So glad I saw this post shared on FB. You are such a talented writer, even when relating an agonizing situation.

Mary Gilmour said...

It is my firm belief that in spite of the mouldy towels, you have raised boys who would never be pushed to do what poor Cayman did.
I know this because I am sure you and I share the same parenting and nurturing beliefs and I have been amazed at the strength and courage my daughters display in adversity. I used to worry about, especially, the ED's breaking point, but she went through a hellish divorce with grace and strength, as a young woman.
On the other hand, it was my philosophy to pick up anything on the floor and throw it into their bedrooms. Had to. JG is an amputee and needs clear floors to navigate. If the towel moulded it was their problem and their room it moulded in.

Christine said...

That poor family. That poor child. I look at my girl--so full of fire and spark at almost 14---could this ever be her? It is a terrifying thought.

Amanda said...

So much suffering.