By now, I realize that my truth isn't the same as anyone else's truth. I realize now after 33+ years on this earth, I am uniquely me. I operate in a specific way that is particular to me, and I can't make people fit into the Mandy Mold, no matter how hard I try. I'm learning this in an incredibly frustrating way when it comes to my oldest nephew, Andrew. He is 22 now. It's crazy to think of it, but it's true. I feel like just yesterday (so cliche, but true!), he was this little tiny sweet boy that I would purposely wake up so I could play with him (guilty!). I adored that boy. I loved it when we would play fun make believe games on the front lawn, I loved it when he would drool all over his shirt, I loved it when he wanted to wear a cape every single day.
I've watched this fiercely sweet boy grow into an adult and I've caught myself wishing that things had turned out differently. Ever since he was a little boy, I thought I knew exactly what he would be like as an adult. Andrew is insanely intelligent, intensely witty, and kind to the core of him. I knew that would take him so far in his life - I was sure of it. And even though he's only 22, I'm beginning to see that the truth that I put on to him may not be destined to be his life's truth. I still haven't determined if that's ok, though. I mean, yes, it's okay. It's totally okay. What I mean is, I haven't really let go of the fact yet.
He has gone through a rough patch these last few years. And last summer, things really came to a head for him. I could have been more supportive, but I reached out in ways that I knew how. He was supported plenty by his grandma, and his grandpa as well, so he was not left out in the dust. Upon his return into our lives full force, he took the defensive and retracted himself from all of us. So much so that we had to use various means to find out if he was still alive and in the area - that's how worried we were about him. My expectation was that he would surface and things would be fine again. He would be somewhere somewhat far away, enough so that he couldn't really keep in contact with us easily.
But as they sometimes are, my expectations were completely wrong. My sweet nephew, who I had always been close with, and who could talk to me in a way that he couldn't talk to most people, was essentially in my own backyard. Living somewhere within a 5 mile radius of my home. Being seen at various establishments on the streets that I drive every single day. This is the same boy who I reached out to several times, worried about where he was choosing to live and what he was doing. Invites for him to stay with us were extended regularly, and I was annoyingly persistent in him knowing that I wanted him safe and happy. But apparently he was going to be safe and happy, only totally on his own. He always was a bit of a lone wolf, that's for sure... But he never wandered THAT far from the pack. Especially not from me. I prided myself in that.
So many people have spotted him out and about, even as close as one block away from my house. But I haven't yet, at all. And I feel really really sad about that. I have known all along that I've been upset by it, and I know that it's not a personal thing that some people have seen him and I haven't, because I know that if Andrew had his way he wouldn't be seen by anyone that he knows unless he wanted to be. But there is a part of me that feels so hurt. And I know it's silly, so I try to just kind of swallow it. I asked David recently, as I was driving home and quietly scanning every single street and corner we drove by, looking for signs of Andrew, if he thought that I haven't seen him yet because the universe just wasn't ready for that to happen. Knowing that I would smother him, and force him to be a part of our lives again, may be something that the universe knows he isn't ready for. I get it. He needs time, and space. But I'm not the most patience person in the world, and giving people space is hard for me. Sometimes I smother. But I don't feel bad about that. If I love you, I love you. And that's that.
But every once in awhile, something tugs at me, and I just get bogged down by the sadness of losing that connection with my first born nephew - the one that had the exact same sense of humor as me, the one who I would laugh and laugh for hours with. The one who became a different person than I expected he would, and that's okay, I want to tell him. It's okay to be who you are, Andrewy. Sure, you have made some mistakes. Yes, you have gone places you didn't expect to go. But you're only 22. Your life is just beginning. You're standing on the precipice of the rest of your life, and you can fill that space with anything you set your heart and mind to. I know I can't do it for you. I've tried. I've dreamed, I've schemed, I've advised. Nobody is going to do it but you, sweet boy, but you have so much support available if you just ask. You don't even have to ask -- that is the beauty of family. Just reach out your hand, and we will reach back. We've been extended, reaching, the whole time, just waiting for you to grab on. And I don't care of my arm falls off from just waiting, waiting, waiting. I'm not putting it down. I'll be here. We all will be.
By now, I realize that he is going to take his time. But I hope that he comes around, literally and figuratively. Because we aren't the same without that link in our chain. The gap will close soon enough, and it may not fit exactly the same as it did before, but at least it will be complete. Until then, I wait...