Z-man -- off in faraway collegeland -- pretty much vanished off the face of the earth for about three weeks.
He didn't answer his cell phone. He didn't answer text messages. He wasn't online. He didn't answer emails.
At first, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. He was busy. He was in college feeling his independence. Surely this was a good thing.
Eithe that, or his grades were really bad and he was avoiding me.
But as the days wore on, I began to get a little panicky. I was thinking about whether it was too helicopter parent'ish to call the school when he finally surfaced online Sunday and actually answered my instant message.
At that point, he very sheepishly admitted that he just hadn't felt like talking.
And that he had been keeping a secret.
A secret that he now felt he should have shared with me. But hadn't.
The secret was this:
He has been in an emotional pit and has been taking anti-depressants (properly prescribed) since the end of February.
My baby boy is broken.
Of course, my first thought was to get on a plane and run to him. IMMEDIATELY.
I already had started looking at flights. I had cleared it with my boss. I would have left tomorrow.
But he was unsure.
In a way, he said, it was like a tease. He wanted to see me, but the idea of a short visit was actually making him more anxious -- though he couldn't explain why.
I offered him a weekend at home instead -- Passover, perhaps.
He answered immediately: "Yes, yes, yes."
And so on the evening of April 17, my baby boy will come home for four days.
I need to see his face.
I need to touch him.
I need to reassure myself that he is still whole and ok.
So far, I think I have seemed pretty level-headed and calm.
In my head, though, I am wailing.
In my head, I am wracked with guilt.
Why guilt? Why not?
He wants to be home.
We have always called Z-man "the boy who never left." I explained it last year in his birthday post here. Read that. It hurts too much to explain it again.
And that's why I have guilt. Because perhaps I didn't prepare him the way I should have. Perhaps in holding him close, I failed to give him what he needed to spread his wings and fly from the nest successfully.
Does this mean that he will not go back next year? I don't know. I would like to think that he can give it the old college try. That we will just be better prepared for how he thinks and feels.
Or maybe we should just find a culinary institute in our area and let him train for the career he adores in the safety of his hometown.
It's a conversation we will have when he comes home next week.
I hope I say the right things.
I hope I do what's best.
My baby boy is broken.