It's Okay to Cry
-Tanner Goodheart (Matthew's Dad)
As parents we all love our children, because of that love we do whatever we need to do to keep them whole. At the start of middle school, the frustration level was felt deep in the soul of our son.
We saw his grades drastically fall off. We saw the tears of asking for help, his abandonment and rejection by school peers, the bullying, and the feeling of being alienated or a lack of concern by teachers. The emotional rejections and bullying became a daily happening in the classroom. Our son’s life was in a downward spiral, his emotions in upheaval. It soon became clear to us; our son was asking us for help. He was pleading his life to us. His life was in turmoil; he wanted changes before he hurt himself. He was headed for self–destruction.
We gathered the best professional people around us to seek help and get our son away from that downward spiral. We needed to find that safety net to help him and our family. It was soon evident the answer was maybe outside of our gathered group. We did the research and made the phone calls. Our safety net might be in Colorado. We made the visits and talked to Linda. Our son was flowing with emotions. We as parents wondered if this was the right decision; to send our son away to Colorado. The decision was made.
Our son was part of it; he was scared of what was to come, his tears, emotions. Our son knew he wanted the help but away from his home? For he had trust in his parents, and they all must be right. His emotions asking: "Why me? I don’t want to go! I can’t leave home! "
Linda visited our home. She met our family and our son. She told us all was going to be OK, her answer was yes, but it would take some time, it would be OK. Dates for the lodge arrival were set up and the anticipated wait begins. The heaviness of decision is felt by all, so many questions on our mind.
It’s okay to cry.
The days went by faster than we wanted, the airplane tickets were made. Our fears were becoming real, our emotions on our sleeve. Our son’s emotions on a roller coaster of tears with thoughts and questions. As parents, we continue to ask, “Are we doing the right thing for our son?” We answer with mixed emotions, through tears of love and our need to help. All of our tears and emotions stay hidden. The emotions flow from our son, He questions the decisions; he keeps asking us "Why do I have to go away?”
His one concern was who would take care of his buddies, his two yellow Labs - Brandon and Snatcher. And who will play with them? They will miss him a lot. They have been with me always. Maybe I shouldn’t go away! Yes, we all felt the emotions of decisions for it was real, the net has been cast. Deep inside we knew it was right but a small part of us wished it wasn’t happening to our son.
It’s okay to cry.
Going to the airport was kind of like a family trip, but without any fun. The airplane ride was long and short. I hoped the plane would never land. This flight was full of emotion and sadness and so much thought. The emotions really took over when the plane started its descent, When the pilot stated “Prepare for landing,” it all became real - the emotions, the tears. The walk through the airport was a blur. Our son saying,
“Why are you doing this? You are my parents. Don’t you love me?"
How do you explain this love, to one that is twelve? It’s because of this love we are doing it. It’s for your future, your wants of life. It’s your family wanting you whole.
Somewhere along the interstate, traversing into the mountains our son gained some incredible composure to tell mom;
“I really love you guys and I love my family. I know this school will help me be better. We talked about going here. I’m scared. I’m not scared of the school, but scared of being away from you. I’m OK with it. I’m sad. I’ll miss you. Take care of Brandon and Snatcher for me and play with them. Linda seems nice. I think it’s OK. Don’t worry Mom."
It’s okay to cry.
The drive through the mountains was calming and beautiful. All shared tears and emotions. My thoughts kept turning to the words he spoke to Mom. How can he be so brave, he is 12? All was sad inside the car. Emotions and thoughts were intense as to what happens at the end of the road. My thoughts of the past and of the future bounce through my mind, the absence Of my son, football season, baseball, skiing and the rattle of Legos from his room. What will I do? Again I ask myself, “Are we doing the right thing?”
As we passed the lake and through the quaint little town my thoughts mixed with stopping or delaying our travel...I asked my son if he wanted ice cream or a Frappuccino, his favorite. Our son said, “Dad let’s not delay, I just want to get it over with”.
Our point of no return was a right turn, over the bridge and up the hill. Curve by curve, silent tears and all. Little did we realize the bravest of us all was our son. Close to the top in another emotional moment our son told his Mom, “Don’t worry, I’ll be OK. I think I need to be here. I need to be better."
It’s okay to cry.
Mom and Dad also knew it would be better for their son who was growing older before their eyes as seen in the last few miles. Yes, there were a few more tears and a calming quiet in the last few curves to the lodge. The meeting with Linda, her kindness, concern and understanding. The knowing that all would be OK. The look in our son’s face, The hug good-bye, the tears by all seeing our son walk away with Jody arm in arm, a tear, and a quick look back. His emotion at its highest. For at that moment our son was being the brave one, again.
Again we heard from Linda "it’s all going to be OK, don’t worry, it’s our turn to take care of him. Its time for you guys to go. It’s all going to be OK."
With a deep breathe and a quick look down into the lodge, we drove away from the lodge. Part of our soul was left behind. Again, we asked ourselves have we done the right thing? We rounded the last curve and drove slowly through the town. We stopped for that iced drink that we couldn’t have before.
We stopped at the lake to take a breath, our thoughts seem to ramble, the calmness of water bringing the answer clear in our minds, Yes we did the right thing in bringing our son to the lodge.
Our flight home was of great mental relief. We were sad, emotionally drained, but OK. Our trust in the Lodge to take care of our son was only strengthened by our trusted friend Linda and our new family on the mountain. The day’s flew by and turned into months. We had our phone calls and Linda’s reports, all seem well with only a few expected bumps. Our monthly visits were planned with anticipation and emotion. Every month we flew - the flights, hotels, and rental cars. The more visits to Colorado we made we thought, maybe we should move. It seemed like home here. Every visit brought visible changes to our son. He seemed more mature, he is older, but still a teenager with some attitude.
It’s been a year at the lodge. I still check his bedroom looking for the scattered Legos and clutter that makes his domain. The thoughts of our son always on our mind. There’s always something that takes us back in memory, Little league, salmon fishing, football practice, skiing, and golf. We will all get through these times. According to Linda, all is working. “For we know the family isn’t broken, it’s only getting better”. Thanks to our other family at the lodge.
With some hard work and determination our son is progressing and wants to be home. He has been unsuccessful in negotiating with Linda and Jody
trying to convince them he is OK and ready to go home. His efforts fall short of satisfaction and he continues his work.
The visits are always very short. The pickups are memorable to see him running to Linda’s office, the smile, the hugs, saying, ”Can we go now?”
The travels up and down the hill are like night and day. The arrivals so happy with questions and wants. Every pick up brings a new list, things he has to have.
The return trips up the hill are somber and emotional. He wants more time with family. It’s just not fair, he says. He always wants to bring things back to the boys, it is on his list. These things on his list might be a chocolate cake, or cupcakes, or ice cream from 31 flavors. The family at the lodge always on his mind. The cakes and treats help him get through his emotions and being able to say good-by to Mom and Dad one more time, for another month. His thoughts of giving treats to the lodge was also his way of giving back to family. The jellybeans at Easter, the salmon at summer break, candies at Christmas and pineapple and jellies from Hawaii. It always makes him happy to give something to the lodge, to say thanks for the help for what the lodge has giving him. And to have staff and boys to tell him thanks for the “Goodies”.
His trips home started at Thanksgiving. Our worries: how will he go back to the lodge? A call to Linda, for the plan it happened with emotion and tears. Dad rode in the plane seat next to him. The lodge staff met us at the gate with other lodge travelers in tow. As Linda always say’s, It will be Okay.
We soon were nearing the second year of progress and growth of our son. He was becoming self-confident and feeling good about himself. He made student council and grades were high. He has activities with friends and his lodge family becoming part of his daily life, trusting those around him. His ever-growing want lists made high on the mountain. His knowledge of mountain bikes is forever expanding. Number One on his list was a new mountain bike. His reasoning sounded good, Dad said “yes” upon graduation. Little did dad understand, mountain bikes could cost up to $10,000. The RC cars were $800. His first car should be a used Ferrari because it’s much cheaper! After some realistic discussions about money and “His monies in the bank”, we had revisions of want lists. Evaluations of dollars based on Seattle at sea level in lieu of Denver being a mile high.
His trips home have been good. The emotions and tears a minimum. He travels by himself and likes the independence. He is proud of the young man he is becoming. Our son has grown in so many ways. His maturity and wisdom, his ability to reason and think through conflicts that may appear, completing “Honors”, and to know that the end is near. Yes everything promised 24 months ago appears to be entrained in our son. Yes, Linda was right again- all is OK. And for my wife on this day, she is getting the best birthday present of all, she is getting her son back.
Our son says, "It's pretty cool, “Happy birthday Mom, I’m home”.
It’s okay to cry.
Our son has already told us he is going to miss the lodge and the staff and the kitchen, for he has made friends and hopefully all stay in touch. His memories of the lodge; snowboarding, mountain biking, RC cars, the outdoor school, Christmas trees, sledding, guitars,
and the food from the kitchen. These are good stories we have all heard. But more important, these are memories to last a lifetime.
His second family high in the mountains of Colorado will be with him forever. His anticipation of future visits is high on his list to return to the mountain to visit the family that turned his life around.
And to quote a saying from the lodge:
“You can take the boy from the lodge, but you will never take the lodge away from the boy.”