Saturday, July 11, 2009

One Day at a Time

I have this darling page-a-day calendar by Mary Engelbreit. (Sorry I was unable to get the link to work in the title, but if you want to see Mary's art, just go to It was a gift from a great old friend of mine named Barbara.

Each page has a colorful Mary Engelbreit (ME) drawing on it, sometimes with a quote. I've been staring at these pictures and quotes this week.

On Monday, July 6th, the picture is of a young girl standing on the beach, pouring a collection of seashells from her pail onto the sand. Within 4 days, my runaway teen will be pouring out the contents of his backpack onto our living room floor, the color of sand, and showing me the shells he collected at Galveston. But for now, I look at this whimsical drawing of a swimsuit-wearing cutie-pie whose swim cap looks like something from a magazine. It's a lovely sunset-inspired color, with a big purple flower that only Mary Engelbreit would have thought to decorate it with, and oh, there are these pretty little curls sticking out all around her neck and face. The carefree feeling of this picture, an escape in which beauty is frozen yet glowing in every detail . . . I need to have this kind of escape. I need to be a child, adoring the beauties of nature, and imagine my collection of favorites, tumbling slow-motion from my own colorful pail, that I can play with and treasure . . . but for now, I am frozen in this place where I must call the sheriff, report my son as a runaway, and give the deputy his picture. Slow-motion, for sure, but not an escape.

On Tuesday July 7th, I see on my calendar, the drawing of a young skinny blond boy flexing his nearly invisible bicep, with a proud closed-eyes grin, accompanied by the quote: "Believe that you have it, and you have it." (Anonymous) My runaway blond-haired boy believes he does not have an addiction, or a problem; therefore (at least in his mind), he has none. Missing for a little over 24 hours, he returns home. When he arrives, we are away. At the temple, with his older brother, who is about his Father's business. The firstborn, he is not perfect. He is looking forward to being able to serve his brothers and sisters in Russia for two whole years, and he already misses his little bro. After the temple ceremony, we take family pictures in front of this palace, and then my husband and oldest son and oldest daughter travel with the extended family away from town, and I come home to what should be a dark and empty house, but instead is brightly lighted, smells funny, and feels very cold. After being greeted by my newly-returned prodigal son without a key, who broke and entered, I call the precinct again to let them know my runaway is home.

On Wednesday July 8th, my calendar shows me a glimpse of a father carrying his blond-haired toddler on a wooded path toward distant mountains, as the little boy points toward this horizon that reminds me of our former home. My blond-haired blue-eyed baby boy is craving escape and adventure, like he used to have, back near the mountains. Missing out on the especially-for-our-family's-teens-trip out-of-town with his cousins, brother, and sister, and dad, this thrill-seeker leaves again, refusing treatment. I call the precinct 5 number again (again, again!), and put all my friends and relatives on alert. Seven long hours after leaving, he shows up back at home again, this time willing to get checked into rehab. We drive the girls to my folks' place, and then to a psychiatric hospital, which turns out not to be the right kind of place for him. We are turned away, and we go home with a list of other possibilities. After 1:30 a.m., I fall asleep in my bed, alone.

On Thursday July 9th, the drawing on my calendar is of a man's arm holding a bouquet of flowers, and a woman's arms holding a vase. The caption is "A soul without a mate is like a vase without flowers." My husband is out of town. I feel I have to take care of getting our boy the treatment he needs, all by myself. I'm grateful to have a husband who has a job and insurance to cover the cost of this great care, and for parents and friends who are just a phone call away, ready and willing and able to fill in for me, take care of the children. My son has not a friend in the world that he really accepts love from. His only friend that he feels close to gave him enough pot to get him high, and then enough more to make him extremely sick. Said "friend" then dragged my son to the back yard before leaving him in the dirt to vomit alone and be chewed up by spiders and bugs. But that was Monday. Today, we take a tour of the wonderful place where my son will be tucked away for hopefully 30 days or more.

On Friday July 10th, the calendar features a darling young auburn-haired bookworm whose dreamscape includes a moonlit night at the beach, where a tuxedoed gentleman puts his white-gloved hand on the shoulder of a beautiful red-headed young lady in a ball gown adorned with flowers, ribbons, and jewels. The caption is "Use your imagination." I've done way too much of that! Just last night, my blondie told me that he always used to dream of wearing a brand-new tux every day. That goes along with his James Bond fantasy, I suppose. Today, I check my son into a prevention and recovery center for adolescents who have abused drugs and alcohol. This place's nickname is the same as the name we all use for a neighborhood playground. This place is beautiful, this place where my little boy will sleep, eat, study, and play. When he sits in the meeting room, he can look out these misty windows and see a gazebo, and ivy, so romantic. My dreamscape involves a 30-day miracle, a son with softened heart and a willingness to change.


Lisa J said...

I love you... I love your blondie. I'm so praying for him to get better. Your beautiful little boy is in there, he really is, and one day, he will thank you for all of the prayer, effort, and creativity you put into helping him escape the shackles of his addition and pain.

As you, I can't wait for the day that he breaks out of all that he is bound by and begins living a happy, fruitful life.

You've done wonderfully - you are my hero.

Kazzy said...

This is a beautiful post with feeling and honesty and every other good thing. You are a good mom, and your boy will benefit from all you have done and continue to do. Big Utah hugs.

charrette said...

Oh my goodness. This is my life. The runaway. The skinny blonde boy. The "friends". The surreal juxtaposition of worship and a prodigal breaking in. The miracle. The softened heart. The will to change. And then tucking him away, someplace safe. (Only ours is for 14 months.)

All I can say, is Bless You.