That there is the face of a
My dad and I bared the trip's grueling travel to arrive at the destination I've been waiting six months for. To say I was nervous was such an understatement.
My dad and I had two wonderful, eye-opening days with him. He showed us around town (if you even can call the small place a town), he introduced us to the world's worst restaurants, and we even went bowling. In between the moments of fun, my dad and I had serious moments with him as well. We asked him how he's really doing, where he sees himself in six to nine months, his goals as well as his dreams. His answers more than surprised us. And so did this entire visit.
As you all know from a past post, I had tremendous amounts of guilt for choosing to better Anthony's life. No, his stay at the ranch wasn't court appointed, but when he turned 14 or even 15 and was in heaps of trouble, it would have been appointed then and it would have been too late to turn him around. My guilt has haunted me daily for the past six months. Even though I could tell by his letters and phone calls weekly that he was doing "okay", I still couldn't shake my own emotions of guilt. I wondered if he was wanting to scream, get me out of here, I want to come home, I hate you Mom, you've ruined my life, but couldn't because negative talk is against ranch rules. I chose to remain in the positive and rest on the idea he was truly okay...to keep my head above water each and every day.
My phone rang a little past 6:00 pm. It was Anthony's advocate telling me they had arrived and were waiting in the hotel lobby. I quickly took a glance in the mirror, straighten my shirt, and opened the door to my hotel room filled with unexplainable emotions. As I rounded the corner, I could hear his advocate's voice; I knew I was close. When our eyes met, we embraced one another like we've never embraced. Our eyes filled with tears of joy, relief, and excitement, we were finally back with each other. I can't explain to you how glorious my heart felt at that moment.
Over the next hours, Anthony gleamed with pride telling my dad and me how he rides horses, feeds the ranch's goats, works on cars in auto-body, knows how to change the oil in a car, can do his own laundry and actually enjoys it (says it calms him), and how he can mop a floor faster than I can, all with a face gleaming with pride. As I listened to him speak, I started to cry. My tears were joyous, filled with pride for his accomplishments, and showered with thankfulness to the Lord for the journey my son's been on, all the meanwhile, protecting him everyday he's been away from me. As I listened to his words, I knew then and there my prayers were being answered. The prayers I spoke everyday, any second I could. Prayers asking for protection for him, the right guidance, and for his new path to be revealed.
There never came a moment in our visit where Anthony begged to come home. He never made me feel guilty for my choice to better his life. And he never made me second guess the decision I made to place him where he is. He simply stated to me that this is where his life has been the past half year. Of course he'd rather be home, but finishing the program and finishing up 7th grade will come first. The changes my dad and I saw in that boy were revealed. Doors held open, please and thanks you's were abundantly spoken, messes were cleaned up immediately by him (without me even having to ask), and a sense of true happiness spoke loudly through him without him even uttering a word.
As my dad and I prepared to leave, my overall well being was genuine sadness of course, but not like it was six months ago. When I left that ranch six months ago, I felt crushed, defeated, and my heart was torn into a million tiny pieces. This go-round: I felt confident, joyous, and proud for the son I knew was buried deep within the mess of bad choices just a few months ago.
As I waved goodbye to him, we both teared up, but it was different this time. My tears were filled with guilt I was letting go. Emotions that had built up so strongly in me that were destroying me; I let them go.
Our overall goal is to have Anthony home early summer. I can't wait! I can't wait to have his room filled once again, to hear his laughing throughout the house, to have my laundry taken care of, and to know that I made a choice for him that will in the end, be one of the best choices I made. But not without thanks to the Lord for His direction and guidance. This would all be nothing without Him and I recognize this. I'm so very thankful.
And to those that have supported my decision all along...thank you. Thank you for your words of encouragement, your gentle reminders as I was questioning myself that I'm doing the right thing, and for your support through it all. And for those that pushed against my decision? Well, I'll sit back silently as you witness the new young man that emerges in a few months. No apology will be necessary.