EDITOR’S NOTE (that would be me): I was writing this post on Friday when my son called at 10:04 a.m. to tell me the campus of North Dakota State University had been evacuated due to a bomb threat. I was into the fifth paragraph of this post at the time. It is now 3:01 p.m. on Friday and I will attempt to pick up where I left off, although the content, I expect, will differ from what I’d originally intended.
My 18-year-old son, shortly before my husband and I left him in his dorm room on the campus of North Dakota State University four weeks ago. On Friday morning the entire campus was evacuated due to a bomb threat.
TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS/four weeks/one month have passed since my husband and I left our youngest at North Dakota State University, one state/285 miles/five hours away in Fargo.
Since then family and friends have asked how I’m doing. They never ask Randy, I suppose because dads typically don’t admit they miss their children so who would think of asking.
I was poised to tell you that I’m mostly fine, but then, snap, just like that I miss my boy so much I want to cry. I long for the unexpected moments when he would walk into my office and ask, “Mom, can I have a hug?” And then I would wrap my arms around him and savor the tender moment, knowing he still needed me.
I’m not so certain about that need part anymore.
But then the focus of this post changed, snap, just like that, when I thought about Jared, a 19-year-old who lost his life Tuesday afternoon in a farm accident near Janesville. He was trapped inside a grain bin and died before rescuers could release him from the suffocating corn.
I knew Jared because he and his twin brother, Jordan, once attended the same Christian day school as my children and the same church I attend. I don’t know when the family moved away, but that matters not.
I can still picture those two (then) little boys and their mother, Julie, worshiping at Trinity. And now Julie has lost Jared and Jordan has lost his twin brother and a family, and friends, grieve.
And I wonder how a mother can bear such grief.
And I wonder how I can be so selfish and think about myself and how I’m feeling.
Honestly, it’s not like I’m not going to see my 18-year-old. He’s tentatively planning a trip back to Faribault next weekend. I’m happy and elated and so excited.
Then I pause and consider my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and how their 19-year-old son died the summer before he was to start his freshman year of college. And I wonder how a mother and father, even 11 years later, can bear the grief of losing their boy, my nephew, too soon to cancer.
You never know what life will bring. I never expected yesterday morning to answer my cell phone and learn from my son that his college campus—in Fargo, North Dakota, of all places—had been evacuated due to a bomb threat. I felt helpless and desperate for information and wishing I could snatch him away into the safety of my arms and protect him from the evil that exists in this world.
Perhaps this is the dilemma of mothers everywhere, always and forever. We strive to push our children toward independence. And then, when they leave, we long to have them back, safe in our arms, close in the circle of our love.
File photo of the main entrance to North Dakota State University in Fargo.
AND NOW, YOU ASK, how is my college freshman son doing?
Initial responses to that question were limited to two words: “Fine, Mom.” And what, exactly, did that mean? I worried because my son is more reserved, most definitely not a social butterfly.
My husband and eldest urged me to give him time and stop worrying. They were right.
He’s now joined a board game club and a computer club (and will be competing soon in some competition in Illinois and he’s taking his resume because big companies like Twitter and Facebook will be there and it’s a great opportunity to network). He’s met other unicyclers and is trying to start a unicycle club. On Tuesday he starts working and volunteering for Chicago-based Bolder Thinking at the NDSU Technology Incubator as part of his Entrepreneurial Scholarship. He’s formed a limited liability company and will be doing some consulting work (sorry, can’t give you details on that).
And in between all that, he’s carrying 17 college credits.
Yes, the college freshman son is, by all reports (as of Friday), doing well.
His only real complaint thus far: living in the dorm. The reason: the noise.
File photo of a dorm at North Dakota State University.
ABOUT THAT BOMB THREAT: A reporter for the Associated Press, who follows my blog (who knew?), contacted me Friday morning to ask about interviewing my son regarding the evacuation at NDSU. You can read the AP story by clicking here.
Thank you to everyone who offered their support to me via emails, comments and phone calls as this event unfolded Friday at NDSU. I am humbled by your concern and support. Such care reinforces my belief that the goodness in this world far outshines that which is bad.
© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling