Friday, March 31, 2006

Castles in the sky



Still in Ireland. Got lost one day and stumbled onto this. It was private property, best we could tell, so couldn't go in past the arched gate. My first castle. Yum.



Well, okay. So we took two steps past the arched gate. Then we ran.

##

Monday, March 27, 2006

Away till early April

Just briefly -- am in Ireland on business for 10 days. Will post more later when time permits. Top o' the mornin', all!

Frankie

Saturday, March 18, 2006

It's never black and white

I talked to his counselor today. Yes, he kept his appt with her this week, surprise, surprise.

She thinks he's depressed. Thinks he needs to be on meds.

He says he doesn't want to, doesn't want to be on drugs of any kind any more, for any reason.

I think I'm surprised to hear that. That he doesn't want to be on drugs. Does that mean he's NOT using now?

She thinks he needs money for meds.

I think we're not sending him any more money for anything for a while.

She thinks he's been depressed for so long he may not even know what it feels like to NOT be depressed.

I think I can't get caught up in this again, can't rush in to rescue him, to get him the meds, to solve his problem.

She thinks he needs my help.

I think I'm confused. When do you help, and when do you say, "I've helped enough." I don't know.

##

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Just wait

A week later, in the middle of his little brother's soccer game, he finally calls. From his tone, you'd think nothing had happened.

"Hey, Mom, my cell phone isn't working. Can I have the last four of your social so the people at the store will look up the account for me?"

Not on your life, I won't give you the last four of my social. But he wants something from me, so he listens while I ask him what in god's name is going on, why did he lie to me like he did, why did he drop out of school, why did he convince his dad he needed a laptop for school when he wasn't even in school, and on and on and on.

He sounds more irritated than sorry, and it's not until I ask him if he likes knowing how much he hurt me that he finally sounds genuinely sorry.

I don't know how to talk to him, what to say. How do you convey to your kids that you love them while being honest about how furious you are about being lied to? How do you explain that you feel just a wee bit miffed that you busted your rear end to collect letters for the judge about how he's in school, how well he's doing -- only to find out it was all a lie? How do you talk in a normal tone when you want to scream with frustration over the whole thing, the whole mess, the whole years of worry and fear?

How do you fucking do that?

After I have exhausted my ability to say, "I love you, kiddo, I always will, but it's up to you to do the right thing and keep yourself out of jail," in as many ways as I know how to, he asks again for the last four of my social.

No, I tell him. Sorry, but that's what happens when you lie to your parents.

Are you fucking serious, he asks.

Yes, I'm fucking serious.

He recovers. Well, will you at least call the store yourself and see what's wrong?

This I can do, and tell him I will. We hang up awkwardly.

It's not until 10 minutes later when I am sitting alone on the bleachers, far from my other son's soccer game, on hold with the stupid cell phone company, that I have a waking-up moment. Why am I sitting here, phone pressed to my ear, missing my other son's game, missing talking to my friends, racking up minutes on my own cell phone? Why am I busting my rear end again for him, for this son who doesn't care enough about my feelings to call me back for an entire week after he heard me pleading with him for the truth about school? WHY?

Because this is what I have always done. I am programmed to do this, programmed to respond to his crisis, programmed to do whatever I can, whatever it takes.

Yeah. Well, enter deprogramming. I am tired of doing whatever it takes.

I stand up, snap the phone shut, and walk back to where I was sitting with my friends. Logan and all his various crisis can just wait. My other kid's soccer game cannot.

##

Friday, March 10, 2006

Fools in the end

I finger the ring I bought last year, the day after I flew to California and put Logan in rehab. “Believe in love” is etched in its silver surface. The ring is scratched and worn now, having circled my finger every day for the past 15 months.

I wonder: what will I do with it now? Take it off my finger and slip it onto a thin necklace chain? No, I don’t think I want to wear it any more. Buy a little shelf, put it on the wall, encased in plastic? No, I’d still have to see it every day if I did that. Maybe a drawer is where it belongs. Shut away in the dark, maybe in a little velvet pouch; protected, but not visible, not constant.

Because how can I continue to wear it, and still find a way to detach? When your heart is broken, you simply don’t want to continue to believe. No. You just want to forget.

Believe in what? Believe in recovery? That hurts too much.

Fuck. I’m sitting on a goddamn airplane, pulling off a cheap silver ring and crying as West Virginia floats past underneath like an ocean floor under a glass-bottom boat.

“Fools in love” plays on my iPod. “Fools in love, are there any other kinds of lovers?” croons Inara George. “Fools in love; never knowing when they’ve lost the game.” Yes, the ring is definitely going in a drawer. “Fools in love, they think they’re heroes.” I just didn’t know the term applied to the love a parent has for her kid. “Fools in love, never knowing when they’ve lost the game.”

I have lost. I do know that. Lost hope, if nothing else.

##

Update:

In the middle of the Cincinnatti airport, I check messages. There is just one. Logan. Logan, who hasn't returned his father's or my calls for three days. Logan, who lied WHILE SOBER about being in school for three months. Logan, who apparently stole the money his father sent for school, and who convinced his dad he needed a laptop to do his assignments.

It's one thing when they do these things while on drugs. It's quite another when they do them sober.

I pull the phone to my ear. "Hi Mom." Voice strong "Hey, I left my cell phone in a friend's car, so I just now got your messages." He's never without his cell phone for more than 2 minutes. "I've talked to my probation officer, and I don't need to report until Monday. So, everything's okay. So, well, call me when you get this message, okay?"

The phone snaps itself shut.

My head is a bowling ball that falls forward into my hands. For the first time, the first time—I do not believe him. He wouldn't leave his cell phone somewhere for three days. And he probably hasn't gone to probation. And I, and I...am not going to do a thing about it. Let probation hunt him down. That's their job.

A few huge sobs tear their way out. I'm sitting next to a packed Outback restaurant, but I don't care who sees or hears me. I have lost my son. And I'm not going after him. I will no longer be snowed. I will no longer let myself hurt like this. This is The End.

I stand up and make my way into the restaurant. My mascara is probably streaked. Who cares? These people, they have no idea. Let them think whatever they want. No one knows, until you've sunk to this level of pain, what it's like. Nothing, absolutely nothing in the entire world, matters compared to it. Someone could set off a bomb and I would calmly walk out amidst the shrieks and screams of the crowd. It's like I'm in a dream zone, surrounded by a bubble of loss. Who the hell cares about anything.

Except, in some unexplainable way, I care about everything. A beautiful woman sits across from me, eating alone on her way from somewhere to somewhere. She's immaculately dressed, and sitting as poised as an angel. She looks dressed and composed enough to be eating with the president. I get up and go stand next to her. She looks up at me.

"Pardon me, but I have to ask you where you got your beautiful suit?"

"Oh!" She smiles, warmth radiating straight from her to me. "Ann Taylor."

"No kidding! I shop the sister store, Ann Taylor Loft, all the time." I wag my finger. "I knew I liked it for a reason. It's just gorgeous."

"It's from last year, though."

"Oh, no."

"But on the back walls they usually have older fashions. You might still be able to find one."

We smile goodbye, the bond of sisterhood between us. And I love this woman, with her perfect posture and her willingness to talk to me when I probably have never lookoed less poised, mascara streaks under my eyes and a fragile cavern in my soul.

On the last leg home, my seatmate is Logan's age. My newborn need to connect with strangers takes over, and we talk for the entire flight. He's from L.A., from a rough neighborhood. He picked himself up and moved to the northern tip of Michigan to go to school. He's one of 30 minorities in a school of tens of thousands. He's studying film. Why Michigan, I ask. Because they're cheap and they give you a free laptop when you go to school there, he answers.

And I love this boy, too. I never ask him his name, but I love him. He is what Logan is not. He is fighting the odds, improving his situation. He got himself a laptop, too. The right way. And yet he's a kid, he makes mistakes. He tells me about getting arrested last Halloween, about times he's "pretty wasted."

And suddenly I feel like believing again. Not in Logan, no. But in humanity, in youth. In love. In hope.

When we arrive at the airport, I touch his arm goodbye. He won't know how he's helped me; I'll never see him again. I watch him walk away, backpack slung over his shoulder, body swaying in that kid-walk that young adults do. Logan walks exactly like that.

My husband is waiting for me at the bottom of the escalator, and I fall into his arms. "Did Logan get a hold of you?" he asks.

I telll him what Logan said, and he reacts with optimism. "That's great!"

No, sweetie, I explain, that's not great. We walk toward baggage claim as I tell him how I have stopped believing Logan. I don't for a minute think he's telling the truth.

Yes, says hub, but he might surprise you. In fact, you may have lots of nice surprises in store.

I stop in my tracks, knowing my hub well enough to know there is hidden meaning here. Over his shoulder I notice a tall teen leaning in the corner, holding a brochure in front of his face. The brochure shifts left, and an eye and half a smile peers out.

"Noah!" I rush to him, opening my arms. He folds into them. He, who can't stand to be seen with mama lately, hugs me back. Tightly. How does he know how much I needed this? How much I am absorbing him right now?

"How is it I get you here, kiddo? Aren't you supposed to be with dad tonight?" Just had a conversation with the dad, not more than 3 hours ago, about it.

"He wanted to come pick you up," says hub.

"You did?" It's so unusual that I almost can't stop asking why.

And he's engaged. We chatter the whole way home. I'm somehow hyped, maybe the natural opposite swing of the pendulum of despair. It feels so good to engage with this son, to see his smiles, hear his honesty, see glimpses of his young teen naivity followed by revelations of his developing maturity. This son, again, brings me hope.

It is apparently part of the deal that in order to be allowed to opick me up aty the airport, he must get a ride out to his dad's afterward. We drive through the dark, laughing and talking the whole way. At his dad's, he climbs out, no ceremony now, no hugs. "See ya." He walks off without looking back.

Less than a minute later, I am in tears again, here in the comfort of my husband's presence. "God, honey, it just hurts so much. I don't know how to explain it to you."

"You don't have to explain. I understand."

Suddenly I know how to explain. "Somewhere after this whole thing started, I knew I would write this story into a book. And I always knew the ending would be the sentencing. And it is. It is. But here's the thing."

I have to stop to let the sobs pass, as the realization hits me.

"I always thought the book would end on a note of hope."

He reaches for my hand.

"But it's not. It doesn't have a happy ending, honey."

He looks at me in the dark. "That other young man? The one we just dropped off at his dad's house? He's your happy ending."

I know, I know. But how does a parent let one kid go and beleive the other can somehow replace him?

A sudden need for Al-Anon washes over me, powerful and intense. Al-Anon, where they teach you to let go, to give up, to surrender. I guess I never did before, not completely.

I always resented Al-Anon, in some small way. But suddenly, as if I can see for the first time, I understand why they try so hard to teach you to let go. It's not for the addict's sake. It's because they know. They know this feeling I have right now, here in my husband's big red truck, my bags packed around me and black streaks on my cheeks. They know addicts lie. They know recovery isn't guaranteed. They know addicts will fucking break your heart, no matter how much you do for them, no matter how much you love them, no matter how much you hope, how much you believe.

They know this feeling because they've been there. And they tell you to give up because they are trying to save YOUR life. Not the addict's. They know there may be no saving the addict. Period. No matter what you do, how good you are, how muh you love your kid. They know believing in love doesn't work.

They know only the addict can do it for himself, and that is not in any fucking way controllable by you.

They know you must give up. Not to save the addict, but to save yourself, to save your other family members. To protect this precious husband sitting next to you holding your hand, this amazing young sprout of a kid you just dropped off, this wonderful oldest you have, somewhere out there on his own making his own life now.

You must let go.

And so you do. It breaks your heart, but you look out the window at the night sky and you pray that a power bigger than yourself can take care of your beloved middle son. Because you can't any more.

And you say goodbye. Goodbye, precious child of mine. Good bye.

And you bring your eyes back into the truck, where they belong now. And you determine to take care of this, this here and now, this you, this fools in love, this us.

This us.

##

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mixed Bag

Well, good news and bad news.

Good news: The judge had mercy. The prosecutor didn't do much prosecuting. And the best-case scenario got handed to the boy. They let him fly back out to California, where he has one week to convince the probation officers there to take his case. If they do not, he must return to court next Monday and be sentenced to a year of probation in either that state our ours, where he grew up. The rules of probation will depend on which state he ends up in.

Bad news: Oh, geez, does there HAVE to be bad news? Can't we just stop right here and go on about our lives? Dust our hands together and say, Chapter over, happy ending, all's well that ends well? Please?

No? Shit. Well, then, here's the bad news. Looks now like the suspicions from last week are real. He is apparently not in school. Which means he stole the money his dad sent for school. Lied to us all. And must have some reason for having done this. Must be using SOMEthing. Not heroin -- I can tell that. But why oh why else would he do this?

I came unglued for a little while the other day when I first heard this may be the case. Totally, completely, fell apart at the seams. Called him. He swore it was untrue. I believed him.

But the next day his dad called with more evidence he was lying. By then, folks, I was just wrung out. Still am, truth be told. And for now, I'm just doing nothing about it. If what we fear is true, the probation officers will surely find it out, and he will surely go toddling back behind bars.

And me, I am toddling myself - between fury, fear, sorrow, and just plain giving up. You know? A person only has so much capacity to hang in there and believe. Mine might be shot to hell. It just might be.

##

Monday, March 06, 2006

The day

Today is the day he gets sentenced. Pray God the judge sees how far he's come in 7 months and doesn't slap him back in jail.

Spent all morning yesterday with him, and it was great. Pupils were large. Cheeks round and full, not gaunt. Voice strong. Attitude good. Our suspicions and fears were unfounded after all.

Please, Ms. Judge. Please let him go back to school and recovery.

##

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Spreading white arms

I am driving from work to a work-related party I DO NOT want to attend but must. I'm the chair of the event and bigwigs from around the city are attending. I have just spent a lifetime of an afternoon learning Logan may be using again. I've talked to his counselor, who says that if he doesn't go to jail on Monday, if, IF he's somehow allowed to go back to Cali -- and we have no idea if he will be -- we need to set up a system with him where he's accountable to us about school, work, and counseling. As in, we get reports, and if he drops any of the three, his already-meager finances get cut off.

So we flubbed up again. We should have been doing this earlier. Great.

I have managed to hold it together this afternoon -- after all, there's a party to attend. I have alternated between immense sorrow, anger, knowledge that he can't win this fight, hope that we're wrong in our suspicions, and surrender of the boy to God, whomever/whatever that may be. I am wrung out.

And here's the thing: it's uncontrollable. You can say all you friggin want to, but as a parent, these emotions happen. They just fucking do, no matter how much you've tried to separate yourself from the problem and let your kid take ownership of it. Your heart just falls -- it's this unreal feeling, like you've just been catapulted off some cliff by forces beyond your control. Sure, you thought you were safely at the top, well away from the edge, no danger in sight, and then WHAM. You're flying through the air and you didn't even see it coming.

See, the last three or four times I've talked to him, he's sounded weird. Off, somehow. Not strong. It worried me, but I said, Hey, as long as he's seeing the counselor once a week, not to worry, after all, that's a big statement and commitment on his part. He can't be using and also keeping those appts.

Then I find out today that he hasn't been seeing the counselor for 6 weeks now.

And my husband said, Yeah, but he's holding down a job and going to school. He couldn't do that and be using, so, see? He's okay.

Then I find out today he may not be going to school OR working.

So yeah. A rough afternoon. His father and I have both called him several times today, and he is not returning calls. He was supposed to fax the paperwork today that proves he's in school and work. He missed the deadline. Huh. Probably because he doesn't HAVE proof, because he ISN'T. So he missed the deadline, he may be using again, he may go to jail for 2 months, IF HE GETS ON THE PLANE TOMORROW AND SHOWS UP HERE AT ALL, who knows, maybe he'll bolt for Mexico, and I must go to this fucking party and smile and be hostess d'mostess.

The cell phone rings. It's him. My heart stops as I answer it. "Logan?"

Nothing. Silence.

Yeah, he used to do this when he was using. Call and be pissed about whatever, not talk for a little while when he called.

It rings again. "Logan?"

"Hi Mom." His voice is strong. I can tell instantly.

"Good god, Logan, are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Why?" Clear voice.

"You didn't answer your phone all day, and you didn't fax the papers you were supposed to. What's up with that?"

"I forgot my phone at home today; I just picked it up and saw you called. But I got the papers from school, and I'm on my way to work right now to get my paycheck, so I'll bring that paystub."

I am not convinced, even though his voice sounds confident and strong, not like when he's using. As his dad said earlier, he could be faking the school papers.

"What does the school registation paper say on it?"

"It's not that good, actually. Just lists my classes and the number of credits for each. But it says I'm enrolled in the spring semester. WIll that be good enough for what the attorney wants?" Sounds legit. Doesn't sound like he made that up.

We talk for a little while and I believe him.

I believe him.

I hang up, feeling like I've just picked myself up from the bottom of that cliff I was thrown off of, battered and bruised but alive. I have to put on makeup before the party, so I pull off the main road onto a side street to find a place to park.

And lose my breath. There, before me on the side of the road, is this massive, gorgeous, astounding white sycamore tree. I've seen this tree before -- it's the only sycamore in the city that I know of -- but I haven't been in this area in a long time and it's never struck me like this before. Or maybe I've just never seen it in winter before, its white compounded by the white of the snowy landscape.

I don't know why, but there is something about this tree at this second that knocks me silly. It's just a tree, for chrissake, and yet it's not. It's a symbol -- its massive white arms reaching endlessly out, spreading wide to the sky, offering hope. Yes, hope. This one white tree, this spectacular specimen of life, this misplaced, straight-from-heaven miracle -- fills me with hope.

I creep my car along the curb up close to it, peering up at it from inside my little car. It sits on the edge of a park, and people walking past stare at me. Who the hell cares. My kid just went to the grave and back. Maybe. Maybe only in my mind. Maybe in actuality. I don't know. All I know is I feel like this fucking white tree is holy or something.

And suddenly I have the strength to go to the party, to face whatever I might find out when Logan gets home.

I have the strength.

##

Friday, March 03, 2006

I erased that file last fall

And now I...CHRIST...now I CAN'T REMEMBER. Which is it: their pupils are pinpricks when they've been using? Or their pupils are saucers? GOD, I thought he was PAST this, and now I FORGOT THE SIGNS. What am I looking for tomorrow night when he gets in, pinpricks or saucers?

Oh god. I am so not good at this. I so DETEST this.

##

In line for the roller coaster again?

You know? It's just. Never. Fucking. Ending.

It now appears that Logan may not be in school after all. And maybe not working. And maybe living off the money his dad gave him for college. (WHY did his dad give it to him instead of paying the school directly? WHY?)

And using.

I just found out he hasn't see the counselor for the past 6 weeks. And the school won't give us any information (privacy, you know), but no, they don't have anything that proves registration waiting to be picked up by a student, why do we ask? And the last few weeks when I've talked to him, I haven't heard any dogs barking in the background (he works [worked?] with dogs).

Which would mean he's lying again. Which probably means he's using again.

How many times can a mother's heart be broken? I dunno, folks. But it looks like maybe jail time again for the boy. And maybe that's just where he needs to be, if he's using again. But...jeezus. It's just...wow. You know?

##

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Letter by letter

Oooh. Things are tentatively looking better. We managed to get one letter of recommendation faxed to the attorney, the letter from the counselor that says how well Logan's doing. The attorney showed that to the prosecutor today, and the pros. said if he gets more supporting evidence by Monday, he won't push for the 90 days and he WILL let Logan go back to California for his probationary 5 years. Thank god. I don't know WHAT the boy would do if he was yanked out of his stable surroundings and support network and plopped in the middle of a state in which he knows NO ONE. Not one soul (except for he attorney, of course, and the arresting officers, but I doubt he'd be hanging out with them in their spare time).

A selfish part of this for me is that I want it to be OVER. I do not want another 2 months of jail time, another two months lying awake at night worrying about him. It's been 7 months since he was stopped. I am so ready to call this an episode and close the damn cover. Please, Ms. Judge, please.

##

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

New judge

Just heard -- there's a new judge in the court where Logan will be sentenced on Monday. She's got a policy that anyone who gets drug court has to do mandatory 90 days jail time. Logan already did 28.

Which means that on Monday he may be yanked out of college, a steady job, and once a week counseling to sit in jail for two months. Nice plan, huh?

And I am having a hard time not falling apart about it. It's an emotional thing, hard to explain. The culmination of many many months of trying to help the kid recover.

##