Monday, August 27, 2007


This week, I am substitute teaching a high school orchestra class. It's really a strings class, I suppose, as it only has 13 students in it.

The reason I'm subbing is because Boo's daddy is very sick, and she has gone to be with her family. Boo and I have many things in common, some of which aren't the happiest things. Our parents' health is one of those things.

I think though, that we get each other so well because the issues of caring of aging parents, or parents with health problems, is not an issue that many people our age deal with. My mother and father were in their 50's when they had to deal with the really serious health issues of their parents.

The other thing Boo and I have in common is that we are both the absent children. Boo's older sister lives near their parents several hundred miles from here. My older brother lives near my parents several hundred miles from here.

It is hard to be the absent child.

I could tell you how much harder it is to be the present child and have the responsibility for day to day needs, emergencies, and anything else that has to be taken care of, but you probably already assume that. You would be right in your assumption.

The hard part about being the absent child is coming into decision making without all the information. Hearing the words, "You don't know, because you aren't here" stings. It stings because in a way, it is true. We aren't there, and we don't know as much. And we feel guilty.

But we do care as much as we did before. Boo dropped everything and went on the very day it became clear that she needed to be present, not just available by phone. And she will stay. Because deep down, she does know her daddy. She may not know every detail of every conversation with the doctors. She may not know his daily medicine routine. She may not know the levels of his latest blood work.

She knows him.

That is the blessing of being the absent child. We have a much easier time holding close to the actual person inside the trappings of a body and mind that are staging a coup.

I think that is a blessing to Boo and to her daddy too.