So I said he had a sore throat.
Unfortunately depression does not come with convenient symptoms and physical evidence. An abundance of mucous, vomit or a good old rash would make legitimizing depression so much easier, not just for us parents and the absentee hotline police, but, quite possibly, for the world at large. Disgusting symptoms would also galvanize the germ-o-phobes into some kind of action to get depression more actively treated since gooey excretions suggest the threat of contagion. Sadly, no pun intended, this is not the case. Depression has invisible symptoms like exhaustion, self-loathing, loss of interest in anything; and these can often be mistaken for typical teenage behavior.
So I lied.
I do not regret keeping him home.
He rested, watched a little TV, we talked and he even did some homework. We did the same things we would have done had snot been pouring out of his nose
And my guilt actually has nothing to do with my latent catholicism. I feel guilty because I should have had the balls to say he was out due to depression. I should have taken this harmless baby step towards normalizing an illness that walks through the halls of life with its head down burdened by the weight of shame. I should have risked the mess the fallout was bound to create. The phone calls, the unexcused absence, the drop in points of all late homework, the revoking of his parking pass because his absence was unexcused. I contributed to the devaluing of my son's suffering by not standing up and confidently stating that this was the reason he was home. That is my sin.
For penance I could speak out and speak up, but therein lies another sin; a sin against my son. For this is his not mine to brandish and rage against the machine. His privacy, his daily battle, his reckoning with confusion, anger, shame and acceptance that he drew this straw. My penance is to forever remember his load and his strength; to care for him and teach him how to care for himself. To go out in my pajamas at 9:30 at night to pick up a Wendy's Baconator because that what he needs; and if there happens to be a Dunkin Donuts on the way, a coping donut for myself might be called for as well.
So, forgive me father for my sin. I will reflect and try to mend my ways. Oh, and, by the way, It's been about 33 years since my last confession.