A night of anguish
Oh jeezus fucking christ. I said I wouldn’t use that swear, but there’s nothing else that conveys the anguish of the night.
I can’t even describe it. It’s too much work. Sorry, what follows won’t be "well-written." It’s just too hard right now.
First the funeral today. He looked so good. We bought him his first suit last night. I use the term "we" loosely. His dad paid for it, but said he’d "rather" I pick it out with the boy. Can’t be bothered, eh? Whatever.
Back to the funeral. Tough, but got through it. Even went to the "after" party and hung with the ex in-laws. They’re nice; I enjoyed them. Avoided the actual ex, but only because his girlfriend and I have a mutual dislike going, and she couldn’t leave his elbow. Her own legs don’t work, I think. And any woman who says my son isn’t welcome in his own father’s home is, well, I can’t even say what I really feel about her.
So the kid hates being out there, of course. Duh. Which means he stays with me. Which means guess who gets to be the stay-clean-police?
I knew it would happen, and sure enough, supper’s no sooner over and we in our after-funeral clothes than he wants to go see a friend or two.
Follow a freaking full hour of "discussion." At least it wasn’t arguing. At least it wasn’t swearing or stomping or punching walls. Hey, whaddya know: growth.
But it was torture. He begged and cajoled and argued and on and on. And I didn’t say "no," rather I discussed, reasoned, explained.
His older brother sat right there, didn’t say anything until I asked him what he thought.
"Well, I hear what you’re saying, Mom, and yes, he did say all these same things last time when he was here and he still relapsed. But he does have to do this on his own."
Triumph in the kiddo’s eyes: Exactly!
So the onus was on me: whatcha going to do?
I still said I didn’t want him to go.
Then, an hour later, he came up with the alternate plan of walking up to the small-town high school football game. It seemed like a safe alternative—anything was better than having him meet friends.
I worried and fretted and invited him to a movie, a game of cards, a drive in the country, ANYthing. Nope, he just thought he’d walk to the game.
Heart heavy, I gave him my cell phone and let him go. The game would only be an hour. Just an hour left, and I’d come pick him up.
I tried to watch TV. Laid on the couch and drifted to sleep. Jerked awake, heart pounding: What?! What just happened!?! Nothing, said my husband, it’s okay.
Somehow I got through the remaining minutes until the game was over. Drove up to pick up the younger son, and knew, knew, knew the middle one wouldn’t be there. He wasn’t.
Started calling him. Called and called and called. No answer.
Came home, spine limp as a wilted stalk of celery. Just no ability to stand up straight. None. Silence in the household as we all looked at each other: he’s somewhere getting high. We failed him. On our watch, we failed him. More specifically, on MY watch.
Follow a half an hour of pure anguish. I go outside and rub Saint Francis’s concrete head. "You can’t save a kid’s life who doesn’t want to be saved." I have a black, black moment of the soul wherein I know this child will not live: if he is this driven to get high on the first chance he has, with so much at stake and all we’ve done to help him, then it’s bigger than he is. It is simply too big to conquer. I sit on the front stoop in the dark and begin to get angry, furious. The ex brought him home. Yet I must watch him. I must be the bad guy. I do not want that job. I despise that job. I know what the director of the rehab place will say, and I pre-hate him for it. He will say, "The kid begged and begged and what did the mom do? She said, oh, I trust you, go ahead." He’ll say it while shaking his head at the stupidity and permissiveness of the mother. Yeah, well, Mr Program Director, I do not have 30 years of program training behind me. I am just a mother who wants to see her kid live, a mother who doesn’t want to go to another funeral any time soon. A mother who fears she will be.
My husband joined me on the porch and THANK GOD, THANK GOD, fates intervened just as I was opening my mouth to say, "I don’t mean this, honey, really, but WHERE THE FUCK WERE YOU WHEN I HAD TO TELL HIM NO?" At that second, from inside the house, the phone rang. We both ran to answer it, tripping over ourselves.
It was him.
And that was when I lost it. I think he’s actually okay. He sounded okay. I begged him to come home. I don’t care if it was the wrong thing to do. I begged and I bawled and I yelled at him and finally I was crying too hard and had to give the phone to my husband.
He says he’s okay, but he is with friends. They’re smoking weed. He says he’s not tempted at all, and if he does get tempted he’s going to call his sponsor in Cali.
"Mom," he says. "Mom, stop crying. I love you and I’m not going to do anything to fuck up. I don’t want to go back to jail. Listen, if I don’t learn to be around this stuff and not use, I’m never going to get better."
Yes, I know. But not tonight. Not one day out of rehab, not the day you buried your grandma. Give yourself time, honey. Give yourself strength. You can’t do it all in one night.
He’s supposed to be home in 15 minutes. I’m only writing to keep from crying my eyes out. There’s not even a reason any more. I’m just wrung out, and crying just happens. It just happens.