Needless to say, the trip took a significant amount of stamina.
I mentioned the other day how much I grieved when I realized the end was near. Once we were at the actual internment, the reality of what we were facing seemed to hit my son as well. He turned away from the service and buried his face in my chest, wrapping my coat around the sides of his face. It took me a few minutes to realize that he wasn't just escaping from all the people (sometimes crowds of adults are a bit much for him) but that he was actually crying and didn't want anyone other than me to know how he was feeling.
His grief had real staying power. I know relatives were wondering why he was being unsocial, but he couldn't bring himself to look at anyone. He continued to cry quietly for about 30 minutes after the service, even when we went to some friends' house so that I could change into jeans (he wouldn't change his clothes, nor would he let go of the program from the service). By the time we made it to the Palo Duro Canyon, and once he saw the amazing view, he seemed to recover and had a great time seeing if he could make an echo.
I ached for his pain but I was also very glad that he let himself cry and that he trusted me enough to share his grief. Too often we pressure men to swallow their pain and be the "strong ones." Little boys and young men take those messages to heart. Lately I've been thinking about the kind of love I hope my children find when they are grown. I want them to find a love which allows them to be completely true to themselves - even when they are in pain and want to run away from the world. As I stood on the rim of the canyon with my son, I was thinking about how proud I was of him for crying and how I know my job right now is to let him be the person he's supposed to be. Some day it will be up to him to remain true to himself.