I am happy to say that after 3 very long days of suffering, my son and the two friends that had joined him were located. They had hitched rides and bargained their way out of the state of Florida and were located in the mountains of Georgia. They were escorted back to us, and we were grateful for all of the help and support from all of the agencies involved and the prayers from all of those who stood by us. The relief to hear, “They found them!” was music to my ears, and it filled by heart with a level of joy I can’t put into words or on paper still.
The “Attack-free zone” part comes in when you are reunited. I had so many questions and was so confused as to why my son from a decent family would be compelled to run away. My first desire right after the hugs and tears was to take my shoe and beat him! . I didn’t…and must be clear to say that I have never hit any of kids and our method of discipline was always a small “thinking chair” near a hallway wall. Instead, I decided to give him space and allow him the time to come to me. It was difficult but well worth it. I found myself asking few questions and allowed his siblings to do the work. I must say, they were brutal at times.
As the days turned into months, and my fear of a repeat performance took a back seat, he began to share information about the “why” behind his “great escape.” Doing this, allowed for the necessary steps to correct the problems that had been shoved under the carpet until then, and healing was able to begin.
The last bit of advice would be that you as a parent must truly love unconditionally. It must show up in the most unexpected places and times, and understand that this is how it is measured. Act out, and repeat the message that your love is truly unconditional at all cost. I know we say this, but the ability to refrain from showing ones frustration is itself an act of love and kindness. Show it in your actions but most importantly in your silence. Love from a distance if you must, but do it without expectation of love in return. I assure you; the yellow brick road of life brings pain but it can also bring the best out in people when least expected.
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