They never stop scaring you

It’s been a tense and turbulent time in the Gerritsen household lately, an experience I hope never to live through again.

For four days, my son went missing.

He’s been traveling solo in the Philippines. A week and a half ago, he told us he was going to be backpacking up to northern Luzon and staying in a village somewhere, without electricity. He told his wife he would be back in the city on Thursday and would call her. Thursday came and went. No call. Nor was there a call on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

In the meantime, the news out of the Philippines was horrifying. On Thursday and Friday, after days of rain, there were massive mudslides in northern Luzon, right where my son was supposed to be. Many villages were buried under tons of mud and hundreds of people have died. Bodies are still being dug out of the mud, and many people are missing. The slides have blocked roads and hundreds of thousands of people are stranded, or in evacuation shelters.

For the past few days, I’ve scarcely slept. I’ve sat staring at my computer, watching as every single email popped up. Nothing from my son. My daughter-in-law, poor thing, has been a nervous wreck. I didn’t want to share my worries with her, for fear of making her more frightened. I suspect she’s been trying to spare me as well.

Finally, last night, I couldn’t wait any longer. I faxed a letter to the American embassy in Manila, telling them that my son was missing somewhere in northern Luzon. Just as the fax went through, my computer pinged with a new email.

It was from my son. The son who has managed to age his mother twenty years over the past few days. The son who scared me to death last year, when he got hospitalized with a mysterious tropical disease picked up during yet another backpacking adventure in Asia. He announced that yes, he’s alive and well, after having hiked and slogged his way out of the wilderness, past flooded villages and mud-blocked roads. He is safe and sound.

I’m so happy, I could strangle him.

14 replies
  1. terri
    terri says:

    Hi Tess, I’m so glad your son’s safe. Asia’s a mess right now and there are earthquakes and typhoons almost everywhere. Philipines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Japan… One of my friend is in Japan on an exchange prog right now and we’re all so worried. So much for fighting hard for overseas exchange and leaving our super safe country.

  2. apola
    apola says:

    hi tess! didn’t know you have a blog. i am a big fan of yours and my brother is going to make a review on VANISH, and im gonna help him out, so i searched and discover this blog. 🙂 nice.

    and reading about your last entry, I was amused knowing your son loves backpacking too and that he came to our country!!! Glad he is safe, it’s really horrible up north now. i was just happy to know that the son of my favorite author came right here in the Philippines. 🙂 hope i could see him!

    i will be visiting your site always! 🙂

  3. Abe
    Abe says:

    Hi Tess,

    Once again the perils of motherhood. No matter what age they become, they always scare the living crap out of you. I am so glad for you and your son. I love your last line….I’m so happy, I could strangle him.
    Now, go take a deep breath and get some rest. You sure as hell deserve it.


  4. nokomis56
    nokomis56 says:

    Hi Tess,
    Glad your son is safe, yes son’s do tend to get that reaction from their Mom’s, (referring to I’m so happy, I could strangle him.), I have said that about my sons many times!

  5. Lorra Laven
    Lorra Laven says:

    Hi Tess,

    I’m so glad he’s okay. What I don’t understand is how our sons could NOT know they are taking years off our lives when they do stuff like this.

    This past summer, my oldest son had a really serious health scare. We had to wait two weeks for the final diagnosis.

    On the day he was to get his results, I was counting the minutes. I knew his appointment was at 4:00, so when I hadn’t heard from him by 6:00, I began to think the worst.

    Finally at 7:00, I couldn’t take it any more and I called his cell. And this is what my darling oldest son said: “Hey Mom, I can’t talk right now. I’m eating dinner. Yeah, everything’s fine. I thought you knew.”

    What is it with boys/men anyway? I don’t get it.

  6. GerritsenFever10
    GerritsenFever10 says:

    Glad he’s alright, Dr. G. I think us boys/men like to be perceived as tough in the long run but I know I still want my mom with me when I have to have something medical done or even to go to appointments. But after the situation is over I return to the “Oh, I can handle anything” attitude. I think secretly our moms know who’s our hero, though. They just let us have some of the glory but then give us grief about it later!

  7. joan cimyotte
    joan cimyotte says:

    Thank God. It sounds like that kid has an adventurous nature. You would think that once the children are grown up, you don’t have to worry so much.

  8. Sharmaine
    Sharmaine says:

    Your last line just spelled it out. Relief, anger, desperation. Boys will be boys? I guess in this respect, I’m kinda lucky to have been raised & surrounded by women!

  9. olly1
    olly1 says:

    Jings crivens! Glad your son is ok. Even though he is a grown man you should tell him that he’s not too old to be grounded!
    I don’t want to think about what was going through your head, in your line of work it could have been anything.

  10. Veekay
    Veekay says:

    Dear Tess,

    HE is there
    Up somewhere
    Pulling the strings
    Fluttering his wings
    Have faith in HIM

    Because He is Jolly Good fella
    He is a Jolly Good Fella
    Which nobody can deny

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