We have been in places like this before. Temporary rest stops off the super highway of his self destruction. Temporary visits to sanity and sobriety. Many times. So very many times.
But this time feels different. At least for me, and perhaps for him. I see the precariousness of any early forays into sobriety. So much life ahead and so much time to believe that you are above the fray, immune to death and other consequences.
But this time...I dare to hope. As a parent, hope grows back overnight. You collapse into bed each night, depleted of hope and left only with the cold silence of despair. Attempting always to distract yourself from the most obvious signs that your child’s path is littered with debris from the ongoing collision of him with life. Each night you cannot avoid the fragments of his future in your mind. Each night you desperately tune into Netflix so that you might avoid the monsters that reside inside your head. The ones that tell you the truth, the glaring, malignant truth that all parents of addicts must face...it is too soon to tell.
But each day, as if sleep carries with it some sort of magic eraser, your mind is wiped clean and as the sun rises to heat the land, your hope is restored and all the dark broodings from the night before are quelled, at least momentarily.
And you begin a new day, emboldened to the idea that perhaps just maybe he might live to see another day. That he might find a path to walk that doesn’t end in jail, in some rehab, in the morgue. And you cling to this idea of a path you aren’t really sure exists for him as if it is some sort of holy pilgrimage to some pious city of old.
This is the daily life cycle of every parent I know who has a child so afflicted. We destroy ourselves with hope each day, collapse into bed each night fearful of the projections of our own minds when left undistracted, unbusy as night falls. The truth sometimes can only be seen at night. It takes the absence of light, of activity, of reason for you to see the truer nature of your offspring.
I know his progress is temporary. No one assumes a path without setbacks. But this time feels different, is it just because I want it to? Or is this time really a departure from all the other stops and starts? Is he really sober? Is he lying again? Is this just some better dressed up version of the kid who seems to make breaking your heart a daily goal?
Who knows...I surely don’t.
But like all recovery, my own included, I have the ability to push those doubts, fears and voices that clamor for conclusion away, to simply show up in this day, in this moment with the hope that grew back overnight. To begin the day in a manner and fashion that allows for some other ending. For there to be another story that springs to life from the old.
Sojourns are temporary in nature, but I have learned that one’s willingness to begin anything new allows for other options, previously unavailable, to occur. In my life. And in the life of others. I have seen it so very many times. It almost feels wrong to wish it for my own. To grab, to clutch, to beg for a different outcome for the son I love so much.
Life is as precarious as every sojourn we endeavor. We know not what comes next, what storms we shall weather and which ones will kill us dead. The arrogance of youth, this great seeming distance between life and death, allows for many a person to believe that cheating death is not only possible, but a strategy for living that pays handsome dividends.
But middle life, this middle age, where death reminds you daily of its proximity by displaying new sags, new wrinkles and fine lines, etched upon your face so that you cannot avoid the inevitability of time. Death draws closer and your ability to avoid the topic altogether becomes harder with each passing day.
I know not what the future brings for anyone. Right now, I am alive and sober. And he is alive and sober. And in this day we are to have dinner together and go to a meeting. This is a very good plan for any day, but for us it is miraculous. That either of us find the willingness to make the plan, to commit to the itinerary, to show up for our lives at all. Being similarly afflicted, the odds rail against us. And yet, that is the simple, and quite beautiful plan for today.
Sojourns of my son have taken me to exotic lands, in both temporal time and the everlasting. Tonight this dinner, this time together feels larger, more expansive than ever, energized by hope and prayer and a solemn vow to walk this path to the very best of my ability. But to walk it with him tonight in this way, feels like something more permanent. Some commitment to something larger, something greater than ourselves.
Hope grows back over night. This I know. And I am buoyed, of course I am...how could we ever have come this far but for the hope that grows back overnight?