After about 3 weeks in our little apartment, I came home from school one afternoon to find Joey setting up the home computer. I asked the kids if one or both of them wanted to run an errand to the drug store with me. As soon as one of them said, "Yes, I want to go." The other one would say, "I want to go!" Then the first one would say, "Okay, I am going to stay here with Daddy." Oh the power struggles of siblings! In the end, Taylor chose to go and Wade chose to stay. I hollered at the daddy that he had Wade and walked out the door with our red headed girl, certain she had not brushed her hair since the day before.
Taylor and I were gone a good thirty minutes, maybe more. Joey was still working on the computer when we walked into the apartment. It didn't take long to survey the small abode and discover that Wade was not in the apartment. I asked Joey where the boy was and he answered, "I thought he went with you." He didn't; he was no where to be found; it was the first time I was introduced to darkness.
The apartment complex stretched a good city block and sat in between a busy two lane road and a golf course. We spread out looking for and yelling for our sweet toe-headed baby boy. I walked up to the pool as that was the only other place within the complex Wade had been. It was a Monday, and the pool was closed. I entered anyway and asked the attendant working on maintenance if he has seen a small, blonde haired boy wearing a a green camo shirt. He informed the pool was closed. It must have been something in the way I answered, "Yes I know. I didn't ask you about the pool; I asked you about a little boy" that caused him to change he purpose. He offered to drive me around the complex in a golf cart to help me look. We drove to the far end with no sight of Wade, and I felt myself slipping away. As we drove to the opposite end, closer to our apartment, a woman in light blue scrubs was walking along the sidewalk holding my little boy's hand.
I didn't wait for the golf cart to stop. I hit the ground with the same speed. I don't remember the ground I covered; I just remember scooping him up and hugging the woman who had held his hand in one swift and constant motion.
Wade wouldn't talk when we got back to our place. I sat with him in my lap on the couch while his head rested on my chest and his four year old baby hands played with ends of my hair. I only asked twice, "What happened!" and knew innately not to ask again, concluding that he must be in some kind of shock.
Wade never did tell us what happened, so we talked to his ten year old big sister, coached her to be delicate and sent her in undercover on a mission of intelligence. He spilled his guts to her, telling her that he had changed his mind and wanted to go with Taylor and me to the drug store. We had pulled away by the time he got around to the parking lot. However, when he turned around to return to our apartment, he didn't know which building was ours - they all look the same. He had wandered around for some time before the nice lady asked him if he were lost.
Like many families, this marked the beginning of a tradition. If there were something serious going on in Wade Garrett's life, we had to find out through Taylor. To Taylor, he would tell most anything. She was our source of information, and she knew it -sharing only those morsels she deemed our business. One of our greatest joys occurred after bedtime when Joey and I could lay in our bed and listen to explosions of laughter, the bumps of an impromptu wrestling match, the boyish holler that Taylor had one, and the subsequent silence of sibling secrets.
When we lost Sis, the silence that has replaced those joyous sounds overtakes me somedays. Wade shares a great deal, but he doesn't share about Tay with us, and we don't push.
So when the afternoon sun on a warm back porch invited us to visit, I found the strength to ask, "What do you do to make a day without Taylor normal?" True to form and with the confidence I lack, he answered, "I don't".
Any answer would have been the right answer. The fact that he answered and a small mother / son conversation ensued, gifted me.
I can't scoop him up anymore and putting his six foot four frame in my lap would be more comical than comforting.. Nevertheless, I am thankful that the boy is becoming a man and that we are becoming strong enough to comfort each other.