Family Matters

Family Matters

Letting Go: Absence can make the heart grow wiser

By Richard Lappin

January/February 2009

I throw his bags in the back of the van and walk back into the house to tell Dylan it's time to go. He glances up at me, and then looks straight ahead as he walks out the door. Although he won't see them for a week, he says nothing to his mother or his younger brother. We're driving to San Pedro, where he and 25 other Boy Scouts and several adult leaders will board a boat for Catalina Island for summer camp.

Dylan wears his "class A" scout uniform, but touches it off with a bright-red knit beanie, pulled down low over his forehead. His eyes peer out in what's become an almost perpetual expression of wary irritability. He's 13 going on 17, or 10; I'm never quite sure. I mentally note his lack of good-bye to the family, but I don't comment on it immediately. These days, timing is everything with him.

The hour's drive is pleasant enough. We talk about who's going to camp and which activities will be the most fun, and listen to his current favorite CD. I ask about what happened with his mother and brother, but know enough not to press the matter. I'm determined to have a good send-off. Life with Dylan has been difficult lately.

We find his troop amid crowds of scouts and vacationers at the terminal, drop off his gear, and wait. He meets friends while I hang with parents, sharing news of our families, cursorily reading vacation brochures. Two other dads and I wander outside to
get away from the hubbub. Suddenly, one of them looks back through the…

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