Read an excerpt below from A Father's Love by Sean Goldman:
For Sean and me, the transition from nightmare to normalcy continues, and we are healing more each day. We work together, play together, and laugh together. We talk openly about everything that touches our lives. Although it is probably not the best time, we’ve found that right before bed is often our best opportunity to talk about serious things. That seems to be the time when Sean starts thinking about things that might bother or upset him. I remind him of the old proverb “Never take your problems to bed with you because they make poor bedfellows,” and we talk things through.
One evening after Sean had been home for more than ten months, I stepped into his room to tuck him in—he had already crawled under the covers, along with Scooter, our new Yorkie puppy that Wendy had bought for him—when I thought I heard him gently crying, not really sobbing, but sort of whimpering.
I went over and lay down next to him, and he slid over and put his head on my shoulder. “Hey, buddy, what’s wrong?” I asked. “Are you feeling okay?”
He rose up slightly on his elbow. I could see the tears in his eyes. “Oh, I just miss Mom,” he said sadly.
I nodded in understanding. I always encourage Sean to express his true feelings, and I never discount them. No matter how old a person is, he or she still can feel the emotional pain of loss, and I realized that this was some of what Sean was experiencing.
“What kind of thoughts are you having? What are you missing about your mom?”
“I don’t know. The fun things that we did. The fun times. She was my mom. No one can know how I feel,” he said. “No one can know.”
“Well, actually there are a lot of people who know how you feel, Sean. There are children who have been abducted and never returned. You and I have a lot to be grateful for.” I shared with him a few of the instances in which families had been torn apart because a child had been abducted. “You’ve been through a lot, more than most ten-year-olds and many adults. But there are other children your age and younger who have suffered through similar experiences and have come out on the other side stronger, wiser, and able to turn that pain around to become good, productive, positive people; more loving, more caring, thoughtful and kind.” We had talked about these kinds of things before, so it wasn’t new information to him. He nodded in understanding.
“You’re not alone, and I know that doesn’t make it any better for you at this moment. But it’s the parent’s job to help the child be happy. And your mom would be happy knowing that you are happy.” I hugged him a little tighter and tried to comfort him.
“Sean, your mom would be so proud of you now. The way you are so well adjusted, and doing so well in school. You have a great group of friends and you are sleeping well, and you are eating healthy foods, and you have lost weight and look great. More than that, she’d be proud of you because you are growing up to be a good person on the inside, Sean. So she’d be happy knowing that you are happy. Think of that and strive to be happy for her, strive to be happy for me, and most of all strive to be happy for yourself.”
Sean looked up at me and said, “I know, Dad. But I still feel sad and I still miss her.”
“And that is natural, buddy. You’ll always miss your mom, but as time passes, your pain should lessen and your heart will heal. I’m here and I’m always going to support you. Anytime you want to talk about it, you have my shoulder. And you have my heart.”
We talked a little more and I tucked Sean in snugly. Just as I was about to leave his room and turn out the light, he looked over at me, his eyes still watery, sniffled a bit, and said, “Hey Dad?”
“Dad, I’m so glad you never gave up on me.”
Hearing those words and knowing what was behind them made it all worthwhile.
I swallowed hard and tried to answer, but all I could say was, “I love you, Sean. I’m glad you’re home.”
Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from A FATHER’S LOVE by David Goldman. Copyright © David Goldman, 2011