This essay is about blindness, and we’ll start, you and I, on a small hill in an elementary school park, where a young man, who was just married, is talking with his mother, who is crying, underneath an emerald elm tree. He is telling her that he went to meet his biological father. She is asking why he betrayed her. He doesn’t know, didn’t know that it was betrayal. He was now realizing how much his mother needed him, how much leaving the house meant leaving her, how much his stepfather’s sarcasm hurt her, how much she had lied to him, how broken he she him they all were. She kept crying, and he looked out across the grass.

This young man returned home a few months prior, after proselytizing in Australia. While there he had many companions: one that went home for trying to drown himself in a bathtub, another who drew pictures of naked women, another who complained of bone pain that doctors couldn’t find., another whom the young man, holding the English language learning kit from his last companion, asked if he knew how to read. It was funny, because the companion’s name was Elder Reader. It wasn’t funny, because later this young man found out his companion was dyslexic. He wasn’t dyslexic, because later this young man found out that his new companion didn’t understand his temple covenants, the gospel lessons, the mission schedule, the reason why this young man broke down with tears and snot running down his tie, and the mission leaders were calling, and the companion said everything is fine and carried this sobbing young man to his bed and wrote down that they’re going to proselytize tomorrow by playing basketball.

This young man’s mother broke down crying in the same way. She didn’t understand why her son would go to her former drug addict husband. Why would he go see the man who got a hernia before they were married from trying to look at her in the bathroom naked, who was hooked on meth or crack or some drug and battered her into the closet, whose depressed brother shot himself in the head on the school bleachers, who sexually molested his sister. She told him all these things growing up. She didn’t know why he still went to see him after knowing all this all these years. She kept crying.

And the young man thought about why he betrayed her, why his step-father made fun of his mother for singing to and nursing him as a child while he coddled his own daughter from his own first marriage, why his stepfather emotionally abused his mother, practically ignored him growing up, incessantly fought with his only sibling