Surrender and Fall Behind

Somewhere in my brain, from a long time ago, I remember this trail, and I remember this boy, my son who walks beside me. He is fourteen now, but I have in mind the eleven-year-old version. That boy wasn’t so tall, his voice wasn’t so deep. Three years ago we walked here, both of us steady and strong. Both of us captivated by our surroundings. Perhaps it was on one of those hikes that a polluted tick latched on and infected me. I don’t know. I never saw it. I do know that while I was immobilized by pain and fatigue, while I was hallucinating and forgetting how to use my appliances, while my speech became garbled and my hands shook, my son stopped being eleven; I don’t know what happened between then and now. I couldn’t take him anywhere. I couldn’t stay awake for late-night talks anymore. Some nights I couldn’t make it to his room to say goodnight so he came to me – – until he stopped. I was so sick, I wasn’t even aware we were losing touch. But all I could do was surrender and fall behind.
Right now, he is talking rapidly, gesturing, passionate about his subject – – a video game with a complex strategy. I love the sound of his voice, the enthusiasm. Internally, I lean in; focus on those things because no matter how I try, and while I know the meaning of every word he is saying, there is no hope today that I will be able to comprehend them collectively. So I surrender and fall behind.
He is lean and lanky, his legs stretching beyond the reach of my own. We are not long on the trail, and I begin to fade. I want to keep up, keep him by my side, but my steps are stiff and slow. My eyes are locked on the ground directly beneath my feet – – feet that feel more like raw meat with every step. I sense I am in danger of a sway or veer to the left, and pain persists. I concentrate harder, gripping my walking stick. He is still talking, still happy thinking of his game. A man’s voice speaking of a boy’s pastime. I cling to the voice and the boy while I surrender and fall behind.
He grows quiet. “Go on ahead,” I say, “just stay within shouting distance.” He moves past but turns to make sure of me. I reach forward, plant my stick, and pull myself toward it. I know how much distance remains, can still picture the curves, streams, and trees that wait; the landmarks that I must pass before this is over. I don’t want to look too far ahead. Right here where I am is enough. I don’t search for birds or look for wildflowers. I only think of the end, and relief, and of surrender. And I fall behind.
I catch a glimpse of my boy through the trees. Such a difference from eleven to fourteen. I made him come today, but when he was eleven, he wanted to come. He thought I was pretty and funny, and he told me things; stories he was dreaming up and ideas for inventions. I was his teacher, his ride, is mother. And then I was just sick. My isolation became his, and his room became a refuge; he lost interest in the wild world. His life turned virtual. My surrender became his and we fell behind.
I try not to feel guilty. Guilt is not a feeling, I remind myself. It is my standing before God. I didn’t afflict myself with Lyme disease. I did not choose to bail on motherhood; did not choose to end my flight in the web of this illness, did not intend for the adhesive of this malady to cling to my son and hold him back. But he was helpless against it and so was I. Lyme pulls me backward demanding submission, enforcing stillness. I cannot allow my child to stay here with me, trapped in this sticky silk; cannot allow him to be drained of life. I surrender. I fall behind. He must not.
So I say to my son, “Go on ahead, just stay within shouting distance.” Turn around, slow down, and come back to me sometimes. Walk with me a bit; tell me things, let me know what you care about, what’s important to you, and I will do my best to hear and understand. But then stretch your legs and take the lead. Love me by living out all my hopes for you. There will be days I can keep up better than others. There will be days when I will have to surrender and fall behind, but not so far behind that I can’t hear you. Not so far behind that I won’t have your back.
Lyme feels like this.

Published by

Amy Estoye

Nature nerd, wife, mom, birder - but not a crazy one - amateur lepidopterist. Not a professional photographer but I love taking photos on my tiny adventures. I follow Christ first and birds and butterflies second. The kids are grown - for the most part - so it's time for what I call my "old lady hobbies" and I am going to enjoy them! Besides trekking through the out of doors, I like to garden, knit, sew, write, and read. Welcome to my blog and thanks for reading my words :)

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