I could see him out the window, walking towards the office, towards us. My eyes smiled at the familiar shape of him, his walk, his face. He was nervous, I could see that too. We had five hours to spend together, I think we all were wondering how we would fill that time.
Initially, you couldn’t call the exchange actual conversation but more like a press briefing, we asking our questions, and in return receiving short, guarded answers. He is, after all, a teenager. His Shadows assist in this, elaborating on his responses. The Shadows are there for him, to protect and support him, guide his journey and assist his evolution. They provide positive peer pressure and support. They have walked in his shoes, and they are good. These two relay for us what led them to this school. One says if he weren’t here, he’d be dead. He’s 17, it’s shocking to hear. He now is loading up his course schedule to graduate on time, and his eyes are on a college education. He does not deny his own surprise at his turnaround during his past year here, nor his pride and pleasure with who he is today. In him, we see hope.
We play Scrabble and Horse Shoes. There is conversation, some laughter. We settle into comfort. I order in pizza and Pepsi. With three teenage boys, the two large pizzas disappear in no time. Oddly, five hours pass without pain or much notice. When we are leaving, I walk beside him, slide my arm through his and ask him some of my own questions. Yes, he can see that he’s getting help here, No, he’s not angry with us for sending him here. Yes, he’s okay. Really? He looks at me, really.
He's young, but not so young. He's innocent, but not so much that there's no tarnish. He's beautiful, wholly. He's my nephew, and I love him. As my father would say, he's my special friend. I've learned today that he's okay. And all I can think about is how excited I am to see him again tomorrow.