...and I tell you this tale to...
... Oh, what is the PKW you ask? It is a "possible kleenex warning". I've had some e-mails and comment requests asking for a kleenex warning when I switch from wearing my normal smart-alec hat to my more somber serious hat...I'm not saying it will make you cry but it might...OK, resuming serious now)
OK, hmmm.... yea. Oh yea.
I'm not telling this tale to you for any pity but to let you know that the impossible can happen. And I'm not telling you this story for you to judge me. Judge me you may...and I cannot stop that but unless or until you have a child in this situation the way you imagine you will handle it never seems to be the way you do. Or maybe it is. But this is what happened for me.
Last Christmas found me sitting outside in the shivery star-filled night playing my guitar and singing "Silent Night" trying to regain my sanity and to subdue the pain that was ripping my heart apart.
My sweet husband found me there and wrapped a blanket around me and led me to bed where I cried until I literally thought I might die.
Oh, I wanted to. I really did.
There is nothing that can cause pain like one of your children suffering. And suffering by perceived choice and not by unlucky chance.
Our youngest daughter is a heroin addict.
The whole full-on hoodie wearing junkie with track marks you see living on the streets.
To say this has been a horror is beyond an understatement. I have probably written 500,000 words trying to rid my soul of this pain. To no avail.
Our last attempt at "saving" this beloved girl resulted in me being away from my home and family staying in shivery-cold Minneapolis for six weeks while she went to a naturopathic rehab. An experience that could result in a thousand or more blog posts if I ever choose to share it.
I saw a miracle in Minneapolis. A true, honest to God, miracle. I saw my daughter return to me...talk to me...laugh with me...have honest light and life in her dimmed and delusioned hazel eyes.
It was a revelation.
And a heartbreak.
Because when we returned to "real life" she fell back into her old habits. Immediately.
And with great sorrow in my heart I let my soul die and began letting her go. A process that might seem easy. A process that is anything but easy.
But I decided that I had to do this to save myself. And that there were others in the family that I loved and that loved me. And that putting myself into the grave trying to save someone who did not want to be saved served no purpose. No matter how much I loved them.
It broke my heart. Almost literally.
So I did not see her or talk to her. I left food and blankets outside for her to pick up on our cold winter nights. The thought of my child living on the street was beyond anything I could even wrap my mind around.
I went to all the NA support meetings, I did all the "stuff" you are supposed to do but nothing helped.
And there was no light and music in my soul.
And right before Christmas she called and said she was clean and sober and asked to come to Christmas Eve. And against all the discordant clamor of my inner warning bells I said yes.
Last Christmas was brutal. Beyond brutal. It was like what I imagine hell to be. Because she wasn't clean or sober. And I tried to pretend for my Granddaughters sake that it was all OK. But it wasn't. Not by a mile. Not by a million miles. And when that night ended and I watched my big, tough son and my husband who can control emotions like nobodies business reduced to sobbing tears I thought my heart had broken even more. Something that seemed impossible.
So I sat under the stars in the backyard playing my old 12-string guitar until I actually felt my finger-tips bleeding. But still I couldn't stop. I could not release that horror and all the previous horrors from my mind.
In January when I encountered one of my long last cousins through her blog. And somehow just meeting her let the music come alive in my heart again
Just a tiny bit.
And as months passed I learned to laugh again. In spite of the fact that I felt I had lost my daughter. We had endured so much through this addiction and not being around it let me finally breathe.
And even though each breath was painful it was possible.
And through each breath the tiny kernel of hope inside of me sat untouched. Just waiting.
In April when she called me she sounded oddly quiet and composed. And she told me she was working on getting clean and staying sober.
I wished her luck but kept that kernel of hope locked up tight, tight, tight. Because it was really and truly all I had left.
But something happened because weeks began to pass and she stayed sober. She stayed off all the drugs.
But I still kept that hope locked up...because it had been beaten down and trampled so many, many times before that I was afraid to loose it entirely.
But I watched.
And I waited.
And the days clicked by...one after another...as they do whether we want them to or not.
And she found a place to live.
And she enrolled in college.
And she picked up the tiny fragments of her life little by little.
And she came back into our lives...little by little...and we let her...very, very carefully.
And now over eight months has passed and she is still finding her way back.
And she has become part of our family again.
And that tiny little kernel of hope has grown a tiny sprig of green and there is a leaf there that is about to bud.
Christmas morning she came with her boyfriend and they opened their stockings and laughed and kidded and joked and then went to my parents.
And the entire day I was on the verge of tears.
That we had, indeed, had a miracle in our lives.
And by prayers and perservance and by taking any and all help we could get to survive intact ... we actually had. Survived.
I know this is not a cure...but each and every day she stays on this path is one day farther away from the life she led.
And we are grateful and overwhelmed with the miracle of this.
I have seen the power of prayer.
I have witness to the amazement of miracles.
And now we are living one.
I listen to so many of your stories and they sadden me and I wonder how you manage to cope with the overflowing troubles you carry. And I admire your courage. I hope you can keep going and keep your head up and work on keeping the music and joy inside of you intact. No matter what.
One of my favorite quotes is "Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark." We have gone through the dark of night to find hope blooming again.
And I wish that for you, too.
No matter how dark it feels.
Keep your faith. There is always possibility. And always hope.
Happy New Year.