Sunday, June 04, 2006

Over The Limit

After I posted yesterday, KA had her usual reserve until I explained that it was a "good" post - about our being in a better place for a moment. I prepared for the day - the usual Saturday morning internal "Do I shave today?" debate. I considered that I would be around the house, some errands, nothing special. A family day with KA. I shaved: what "audience" could be more important.

Ready to roll - early lunch before hitting the road - and the phone rings. It is my ex - wants to discuss some financial issues and our twenty year old. I am half out the door and suggest we only do the easy stuff - my son. Ex tells me that is the hard stuff. My son has long been a difficult child - things our family are not used to. A stint in alternative school, minor brushes with the law - uncharted waters in our sheltered existence.

He drinks a little: KA and I have noticed in our limited time with him. But he lives a few hours away and we lack that day-to-day perspective. It seems it is more than a little. It seems he drinks to escape. It seems that a few weeks ago he came home bruised from a fight he does not really remember. And it seems that the night before he took the liberty of using the spare key for the neighbor and finished a half bottle of vodka before being found, by friends, passed out on the kitchen floor. It seems that I am driving two hours in the deluge to intervene.

We sit - my son, my ex, me. We tell him he will accept help - outside help - or he will be homeless. We will support him totally while seeking and receiving help. We will not support him at all should he continue to deny. The tears flow - his and mine; he agrees. He has been drinking for a year or more. He does not feel capable of stopping in a day program.

Now here we have to swim against popular culture and opinion. Insurance companies do have a little reputation problem but this is a crisis and on a Saturday afternoon we call the 800 number. Two hours and a few calls later, he is accepted to an in-patient detox facility for Tuesday morning. At one point the insurer told me this is not my problem - it is theirs. They did come through.

Back home - many other children - some younger, some older - in our lives and house. I drive the young ones for an impromptu visit with their aunt. I drive KA's car and pop in a CD. Now KA appears to be technologically challenged so when I had realized a few weeks ago that she burned her own mix I was quite impressed. Many familiar songs - a litany of these times we are strugging through - and a few less familiar.

A Warren Zevon song comes on: "Please Stay" from his particularly poignant final album.
Will you stay with me to the end?
When there's nothing left
But you and me and the wind
We'll never know till we try
To find the other side of goodbye

Please stay
Please stay
Two words I've thought I'd never learn to say
Don't go away
Please stay

The next song comes on, a Joan Baez song titled "Best of Friends":
We may not always be the best of lovers
But if you leave it to me
I think I can see
We'll always be the best of friends

I am not broken yet, but my heart is starting to ache. I make it through the song - little ones in the car and all - and the next song comes on - finally a "Nate" song. Old Bruce Springsteen -"Walk LIke A Man":
Well so much has happened to me
That I don't understand
All I can think of is being five years old following behind you at the beach
Tracing your footprints in the sand
Trying to walk like a man

There are other songs, before and after, but the cummulative effect of those three hit me in the gut.

In basketball after a certain number of fouls your team is over the limit. Now the last foul to put you there may stand out, but it is a cummulative thing. The first "dumb" one early in the quarter counts as much as the last. So I do not blame my son this weekend: his was only the last foul. But what is clear is we are over the limit.


Drew said...

Jeez Nate, with posts like this I'm going to have to stop reading your blog with my door open. There are only so many times I can blame my blood-shot, teary eyes on allergies.

Please take care.

Tony said...

Be strong and focused. Life always manages to get back on track. Hugs.

john said...

Wow, I hope your son gets better.
Andn what a good mix.

Brad said...

The good news is you've recognized the cry for help from your son.

Anonymous said...


With all that seems to be going on in your life at the moment you are an amazing example of stregnth and courage.

Stay strong and be well.