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.

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