Missing Dylan


We were a house of three women. I worked as a healer a few blocks from home, my daughter, Kristen, studied at Marylhurst University and her daughter, Isabella was tricycle age.

We had new neighbors, Genevieve from England, married to Troy from the United States.  We’d met briefly on the street with a wave and welcome but little more. Until one morning Genevieve knocked on my door, her young son, Dylan in hand.

“I have a job interview in a few hours and no one to watch my son. Would you take him for me please? It should not be long.”

Her desperation coupled with his big brown eyes could produce nothing but a definite, yes.

That afternoon young Dylan walked through our front door and straight into our hearts. He fit in our family like he’d been born to it, making all of us look forward to any occasion that might bless us with his company.

One memory stands out – a room to room chase with Isabella and Dylan tearing through the house,  their screams and laughter filing the air. I had just toweled dry in the bathroom, my hair still dripping as I made my way to the dresser.  Then, slam! My bedroom door sprang open. Dylan raced in, saw me naked, stopped like he’d been struck by lightning, eyes as wide as dinner plates and said …not a word. Clearly his first revealing look at a woman’s body.

“Sorry dear,” I said grabbing underwear, “better run back out and play.” And he did, with a changed look in his eyes. Oh my, I thought.  Best be careful.

We were all in love with Dylan and he with us, so much so that when he began daycare the following year, he took a photo of his three women to tape to his cubbie. His mom explained as she froze our smiling faces in Fujicolor. “It’s to help him feel at home.”

Then came the sad day when Genevieve and Troy announced their return to England. I remember holding Dylan on my lap under a cloudless blue sky in the cozy comfort of our side yard. He fingered my long hair as he turned, his innocent young eyes looking straight into mine.

“If we go so far away, Ma, how shall I ever find my way back to you again?”

I promised we would always stay in touch with his parents, making a clear trail for him to follow. This gave him shallow comfort as he pulled painfully away from our lives and hurting hearts. And they did come to visit years later, but I was living in the country, far from Kristen and Isabella, too ill to make the drive.

Honestly, I have no idea how many years have passed now, but Dylan has a younger sister older than he was when we knew him, and the young master himself is more young man than boy.

I found this photo of him on Facebook today and wept from missing him.


The men in my family, the men I have loved, are in the cemetery now. I spent two days with them when I went home to New York. On the first day I rode my sister’s bike to the gravesite, being drawn by their spirits, like a bird migrating to its kind. An emotional damn broke as I held each gravestone and spoke with each spirit.

Excuse me, Could you spare a Kleenex?  I asked a woman only yards away.  I never meant to cry like this. I surprised myself.

She was typical of the pioneer farmwomen in our village.  Use your sleeve, that’s what I do.”   She raised her gnarled hand to demonstrate.  

As I fingered the gravestone of my father, an army of ants burst free, crawling up my arms in great red legions full of bites and stings. A warning from my father, I thought, even in death. Don’t get too close or you’ll get hurt.

I pulled out my sketchpad and rendered the way branches of white birch sheltered their tombstones. Now I had a visual reminder of the place the men in my life reside.

written 5-25-05