Extremely Loud, Incredibly Close

Last night I watched “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” with my youngest son. The title is actually a pretty good description of my son much of the time. For those who haven’t seen it (I highly recommend it) the boy’s grandma plays a big part in his life. At one point she comes into the boy’s room and is asking him if he’s okay.

My son asks, “Who is that lady?”
“That’s his grandma.”
“Why is she there?”
“Because she cares about him and wants to make sure that he’s going to be okay.”
“Hmmm,” and he sits silent for a moment, with a puzzled expression. “I don’t really have any grandmas, do I?”

I am not blind to the irony that this child had more grandmas in the FLDS than is “normal.”

“Well, your Nicholson grandma died, and my mother won’t talk to us.”
“I wish I could see her. It would be nice to have a grandma.”

By this point the tears were streaming down my cheeks. I had an experience in one of my classes earlier that had brought up a lot of pain, and I had been working hard to let it go, but now I gave in and wept.

“I wish I could see her too. I wish she could see you and get to know her grandchildren – she would love you so much.”

He is nine. In less than two months it will be the 5 year anniversary of when we left the FLDS. He was 4. He doesn’t remember my mother. Grandfather John Nicholson passed away when he was 4 months old, and Grandmother Barbara passed away about a week before his first birthday.

This was a stinging reminder of so much loss. My child has a HUGE extended family and he doesn’t know them. He has met a few cousins, but the very concept of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and so on is foreign to him. Almost as much as the concept of friends. He’s a spunky, bright, wild child who always wants to be busy. He wants to build things, and has a keen mind. One day he pulled out all the extension cords he could find and connected them together, then he plugged in the leaf blower, laid down on the long board and air propelled himself up and down the sidewalk. This plan had frustrating limits though. Not enough cord, the cord would be inhibited by trees and such, and a leaf blower just doesn’t have enough oomph. Next, he got the cordless drill and laid down on the long board, with the rubbery chuck against the wheel. He could then control speed, without cords, and this gave him a much wider range.

One day last summer he decided he wanted friends, so he rode his bike around our neighborhood and introduced himself to people who were out in their yards. He made friends, but those friendships didn’t last long.

“Do you go to church?”
“Well you should, or you’re going to go to hell.”

One by one his “friends” told him their mom said they couldn’t play with him any more. Some just kept saying, “not today.” He was persistent though, he kept going back to ask if they could play today. I finally had to explain to him that they weren’t ever going to say yes again. That it would continue to be one excuse after another. He understands why now. I won’t say that it didn’t hurt him, because it did.

Hopefully someday soon life will change for him, and for the rest of my family. I keep telling him that not everyone acts that way, we just need to find the right people.

“Sometimes we have to face our fears.”




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