I took Sam to church the other day. He hadn’t been for a while but there was a mass for my father. It felt it important he attend.
We arrived early to allow time to settle in. Sam spent his time traveling back and forth between reality and fantasy: sometimes blessing himself and talking about the large cross before us other times talking about the 30 tons of grubs he’d apparently just won.
Sam needed frequent reassuring during the mass, asking in his distinctively loud and low voice, “What’s the plan?” Though he dwarfs me, he intermittently laid his head on my shoulder and wrapped himself in my arms for security.
With this as my backdrop, I tried to focus on the words being said while periodically reminding Sam to be quiet out of respect for the people around us. This has been our life for so long, I sometimes forget its peculiar nature.
People are kind at this church, though. When I glanced up, I saw some smile and nod at us. I appreciated their patience and tolerance. Though I did not know some of their names, The familiarity of their faces was comforting.
After the mass was over, several came over to talk to us, some because they knew my father, others just because they were thoughtful people. Each tried to say something kind and reassuring, mostly centering on what a good mother I am and the connection between Sam and me. It was nice to hear their words; to briefly believe I was all they saw.
Later that day I watched Sam struggle in distress and I pondered their words. His connection to me was evident as he looked to me pleadingly to right his strife. Though I tried, I could not fix what tormented him. I did not know the source of his pain. And at that moment I didn’t, feel like a good mother at all but rather like a fraud.