So Matt and Natt were living at the beach. I tried to give them a little guidance as they started their new life, suggesting that they rent and test the waters. Thinking if things didn’t work out there would be no ties to keep them from coming home, but those of us that have adult children know that we as parents know nothing about life and our kids will do what they do.
They settled into a sweet home by the sea. They were both so proud of their place and I remember how my heart swelled with pride and gratitude that they were on the right track.. I had visions of a wedding on the beach and grandbabies that would have Matt’s eyes, another sweet babe that I could fold under my wings and protect and watch grow into my mini Matt. My dream was just that a dream, as the demons lived by the sea.
Life went on as planned. I worked and adjusted to living without the kids. My friends would tell me that I should be glad to have the house to myself and enjoy this time of freedom that comes with being an empty nester. Little did they know that my life was really about the kids. My older son Mike was in the Coast Guard and had a beautiful wife, his life was so far away from Delaware and because of that Matt and I had stronger bond. We both felt the loss when Mike was gone. I never realized how much Matt missed his brother until one day I found Matt asleep in Mike’s bed. I remember standing in the hall, tears running down my face and thinking how selfish I was to not have realized how Mike’s absence affected Matt.
Months turned into years and we settled into a routine. Working all week and playing in the sea all weekend. Matt’s business was a great success. With success comes money, with money comes the man toys. First the kayaks, then jet skis. With each new purchase I would smile but inside I was feeling uncertain. Again I tried to offer advise of trying to find a balance. I would ever so quietly take Matt aside and suggest saving some of this money as we never know what the future will throw at us. He would look down on me and give me that famous smirk of his and say, “Mom, I don’t worry about tomorrow, life’s too short and I want to enjoy it to the fullest”. Little did we know how true those words would turn out to be. I look back now and realize that Matt was far wiser than his Mom. I’m so glad he didn’t listen and played with all the joy of a child, not worrying about the future as his future would be cut too short.
Matt called me at work one day and said he really needed me to come down the following weekend. He had a surprise for me. He sounded so excited. My mind went crazy. Finally my dream was coming true. The news of a proposal, or maybe he needed my help picking out the ring. Something I had been waiting for as Matt and Natt were going on seven years together, and this old fashioned Mom wanted to give my son away in front of family and friends to his beautiful Natt.
Well, as only Matt could pull off, he certainly surprised me. I arrived early and we grabbed the dogs and walked to the water. During that short walk, I kept looking at him, his smiling smirk reminding me of when he found the hidden Christmas presents and convinced Mike to help him unwrap them and then tried to rewrap so Mom would never know. I knew, but didn’t want to take away that innocent joy when they thought they pulled one over on Mom!
We reached the water and there she was, Natt standing on the biggest boat in the slip. Smiling from ear to ear, both so proud of the newest toy. I got this for you Mom, we can spend days fishing and playing in the sea. We can sleep under the stars in our boat. So off we went on our first of many trips. I turned away as the tears hit with the spray of the ocean. My dream would have to wait as Matt was following his dream with the abundant joy of a child seeing the toys under the tree and believing that Santa lives.
I can’t remember the exact moment in time when that feeling of something being off first hit me. They say to always listen to your gut instinct, well I believe that Mom’s have a radar and can see things that friends miss. I was starting to become that Mom again, the one that watches interactions like a hawk. My visits were no longer to relax, but to observe and try to fix what was starting to break.
Matt was spending more time on the boat then at work. Bills were left unpaid. Natt was pulling away. My questions were laughed off, Mom you worry too much, everything is fine. I’m just taking a break.
As we mother’s do and I did in the past, I started paying the mortgage. I loved the beach house and couldn’t imagine losing it. I would come on the weekends to find Matt on the couch, the house neglected, the dogs in need of walking. Oh please God, not again.
Matt called me one day sobbing uncontrollably, she’s gone Mom, she’s gone. I remember feeling dizzy and nauseous. My first thought being a car accident oh God why is this happening. Later I would come to understand that Natt had tried as I did to help Matt fight the demons that found him again by the sea. She could do no more and left to save herself. Her nightmare was ending as mine was about to begin again.