Yesterday morning, Fritz walked out of the house, hands full with a fishing pole and sleeping bag. I chased after him, stopping at the door. "Bye, honey, I'll see you in a week! I love you. I'll miss you!" He barely looked back, but I could see him smile. "Bye, Mom." Then he was gone.
We waited at the window to wave. As they drove off, Bill told me that Fritz said, "Yeah, Dad, she's probably crying right now."
So what if I was?
I did think about him all day long, hoping that he was doing okay and having fun. And missing him. In the late afternoon, I passed Billy rehydrating himself in the dining room. "How are you doing, sweetie?"
"Not too well," he confessed. He then gave me a litany of all the things that were going wrong. Mosquitoes biting him, too hot, too sunny, etc etc etc.
I took his hand. "You miss Fritz, don't you?"
He burst into tears. "It's just not the same without him," he cried. He went on about how he really wanted Fritz to come home, that he just couldn't go the whole week without him. I told him we would all be fine, that we would have to manage, to comfort each other, to just get through this difficult time. Heavens! I thought. It's a good thing he's only camping!
Billy, comforted but still unhappy, went back to his water, and I checked on dinner.
A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was Fritz's den leader. Despite checking in advance, the group got all the way to Goshen before being informed that the camp would close down due to an e Coli outbreak. Of course, everyone wants the kids to be safe, but it would have been nice to be spared all that driving.
I accused Billy, "Were you praying that Fritz would come home?"
He promised me that he wasn't praying, just hoping. I told him that he needed to keep his happiness to himself, since Fritz would likely be extremely disappointed.
A bit later, Billy said, "Mom, I can't remember Fritz."
"Fritz? The guy you share a room with? The guy who's been around since before you were born?"
"I know who he is, I just can't remember what he is like."
"Billy, he's been gone one day! You saw him this morning! You've been apart from him for a day before."
"When? When I was a baby? I don't remember..."
Somehow, when Fritz got back after 9 pm, we were able to reintegrate him into our lives without too much effort. Yes, he's disappointed, but I think he's happy, too.