I wonder why the son from whom I am estranged is so much on my mind just lately. After all, I did a massive tie-cut, and the predominant feeling has been huge relief to have that man out of my life at last. When I think of the man, there is not much resemblance to the child.
Then I realise that it's the child who is coming back into my mind just now, and the reason becomes obvious. His birthday is coming up at the end of the month. Naturally I am going to have thoughts of him, and can no doubt expect them around this time every year. It is the same with those who have died; the people crucial to us float back into consciousness around the time of important anniversaries — births, deaths, marriages ...
I think I see with hindsight the tiny signs that pointed to his mental illness. But it's all so speculative. In many ways he was a dear litle boy too, and a nice lad growing up — 'a wonderful young man' as he is remembered by some of my friends who knew him then. Yet always troubled perhaps, now that I look back; always trying to make the world over into some better way that he knew it should be. Well, idealism is a good quality, and one he might well have imbibed from both his parents, but being certain of rightness in all things is quite another matter.
The surprise for me, looking back, is to perceive that loving parenting isn't necessarily enough. We were imperfect parents of course, and there are things I wish I could go back and do differently, but I always thought we gave them a firm foundation of love and that it would surely keep them sane and strong.
Well, I dare say it's useful to have these thoughts occasionally, and put it all into perspective a little more.