Monday, July 12, 2010
ABSENTEE CHILDREN / Part 247 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/
Each day that Paul and Zabeth awake, they step past rooms in which their children's things are contained and because the children are gone, these clothes and toys are transformed into the signs of their absence. These lonely suffering people begin another day, like so many other days, hundreds of days. It takes their breath away. They start the day with a punch to the gut. Yet graciously the day may be one of the three each week during which three hours are allocated for them to visit with the children who no longer live in their home. The mornings cannot pass soon enough. These afternoon minutes are joy-filled, each treasured and remembered. Children fill Paul's and Zabeth's embrace, climb on their laps, sit astride Paul's shoulders, snuggle into Zabeth's neck. Always, always a supervisor sits as close to this action as possible to hear each verbal exchange, each endearment, each casual comment. A supervisor with the responsibility and the gall to remonstrate these parents if either does or says anything that has previously forbidden. The prohibition may pertain to a conversation topic or taking a child to the washroom. Even the brief snatches of family sanity and wholeness are moderated by an invasion of excessive control. On the other four days each week, Paul and Zabeth live with a reality that should only be a nightmare from which they can awake. The children are not there. They don't sit together for bowls of cereal. They don't ask mom and dad to take them to the beach. They don't make children's sounds at play. Their rooms are silent.