When my younger son, Sol was 18 he joined the navy. I was pretty freaked out but did my best to be supportive.
"Oh!" I said. "Well! That's great. But are you going on a ship?"
Sol actually traveled the world, just like the billboards promised.
I never stopped worrying about him and kept a world map over my desk at work with stick pins marking his voyage.
One day at work I went to the postoffice to retrieve a package he'd sent me from Mombasa, Africa. I hurried back to my office and while my co-workers watched I ripped it open, tore through the newspaper stuffing, unwrapping carved giraffes, wooden bookends of women with big bosoms, tiny black elephants and this beautifully carved and dyed mask. When I'd finished I sat down and wept.
It wasn't enough. What I wanted wasn't in the box, it wasn't some trinket...I wanted my son back, safe within my reach.