Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Day Jerry (Almost) Died

So Jerry is a friend of Luke's.  Kind of.  Jerry is Luke's imaginary friend. 

Jerry gets Luke in trouble.  "Luke, let's go, you need to hurry up or you're going to miss the bus!"  "But mom, Jerry won't stop talking to me.  It's all his fault!"

Jerry is always there for Luke.  "Mom, _____ wouldn't talk to me in school today, but Jerry said not to worry about it."

Jerry lives with us.  Sometimes.  Jerry is usually here first thing in the mornings, and is sometimes in the car with us, but other times Luke will say Jerry lives by Target. 

I never make a big deal about Jerry.  I had an imaginary friend, so I get it.  My only sibling is my brother who is almost 7 years younger than me.  I grew up way out in the country without many neighbor kids to play with.  So I needed an imaginary friend.

Joe and Emma don't get it.  When Luke starts talking about Jerry, they'll giggle.  I guess they aren't creative enough to understand :)

One day not too long ago, I thought I'd find out a little more about Jerry.  Luke was talking about him and I said, "Luke, where did you meet Jerry?"  His answer:  "Duh, Jerry came home with me from Russia!"

I sat in stunned silence.  Of course.  Why hadn't I thought of that before??!! 

My son was once a 3 year old, scared little boy who left his orphanage in Russia and everything he had ever known. 

Saying goodbye to one of his caretakers as he left the orphanage - forever.

He went with 2 nice grownups who loved to play and smile and hug but didn't speak his language.  At least not very well. 

In Russia, right before coming home to the US.

They took him on an airplane - but he had no idea what it was.  On a long flight - and he had no idea where he was going.  Finally came to an airport where there were more strangers gushing over him.  Then they went to this place called home that had 2 dogs (what on earth are THEY?!?) and no other kids. 

His world was turned upside down.

What do you people do here in this place called America? 

Oh, THAT'S what this is!

Many kids who have spent time in orphanages use coping mechanisms:  rocking, swaying, food hoarding.  Luke chose to create an imaginary friend. 

Fast forward 7 years.  Luke is acclimated.  Doing great.  Used to life in a family, used to life in the US.  Doesn't speak any Russian, doesn't really remember Russia. 

But Jerry is still around. 

Until today.  Luke had a look of worry on his face.  "What's the matter, baby?"  I asked him.  "Um.  Um....  Jerry is in the hospital."
Me:  "He is?"
Joe and Emma:  giggle giggle
Luke:  "Yeah.  He has ammonia." 
Joe:  "Oh I hate it when I get ammonia."
Me:  "Stop it."  I turn to Luke:  "Jerry has pneumonia, huh?"
Luke:  "Yeah, the doctors said it's pretty bad.  He's getting all kinds of medical stuff done.  He's supposed to text me later and let me know how he is."
(Luke doesn't text...)
Luke:  "I think the phone just rang."  (It didn't.  He picks it up anyway.)
Luke:  "Hello.  Oh.  Oh.  Okay.  Thanks for calling."
Me:  "Who was it?"
Luke:  "The hospital.  Jerry died."
Luke runs to the bathroom and starts to cry.
I follow him in.  "Are you sure?
Luke:  "Yes, that's what they said."
Me:  "No, Luke, I mean are you sure you're ready to let Jerry go?"
Luke:  "What do you mean, I'm 10 now."
Me:  "I know, but you have the power to keep Jerry. If you still want him, I mean.  It's okay, even though you're 10."
Luke:  silence
Luke:  "I meant to say that the doctors said he almost died.  He's going to be okay!"

I'm sure there's something psychological here.  Not sure what.  Not sure if I handled it the right way or not.  But I do know that Jerry has gotten Luke through some of the toughest times of his life. 

Maybe Jerry won't come around as much.  Maybe Luke will realize he doesn't need Jerry anymore.  Or maybe, just maybe I wasn't quite ready to let Jerry go yet.  For as crazy as that sounds....  Afterall, he helped Luke adjust to life outside of an orphanage....

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