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Chasing the Sun

I feel like I am racing reality to write a better ending for my son. At least, to head off the looming disaster. I can do neither. I’d like to take poetic license and bookend the story with a happy ending. We’re in a different place here in the real world of the present moment. No contact since last night. It’s now 2 pm and my son is alone in his AIR BNB with his guns and his thoughts. We’re all hoping for the recovery established by his new care team, at today’s meeting. When is that meeting again? And what’s one of the first signs that you’re managing your adult life? Getting up before 2 pm and not missing appointments.

Perhaps my son is at his appointment and things are going well. He is presenting his case and asking for leniency in both structure and production of his trial separation from his mom’s oversight. She texted that she was happy to relinquish the lead on my son’s program. Right. There is no program. We are now pushing into the first month of the summer and he’s still running on fumes and lying for sport. In my conversation with him, last night, he’s go a glimmer of hope. What do I know about hope? Well, if he’s got that, there’s half a chance.

We’re all rooting for him. We’re all chasing the sunny moments, the good times, the positive actions that come in starts and fits between the leavings. When the habit has been established for breaking good plans with a text, “Drove to Dallas last night,” there’s not a lot for me to do, at this moment, but wait.

I am clear that I’ve got to focus on myself. My own response to my son’s acting out. My own self-soothing as it relates to his unknown status or whereabouts.

The Dallas walkabout showed me, however, that I am truly powerless over his recovery and actions. “Just going out for a cigarette,” will probably be the last goodbye I ever hear from him. I’ve learned to hold my breath. Today, I’ve learned to breathe underwater and let go of my son’s future. I have my present moment. I have my own health and well-being to focus on.  I admit that my son’s issue has become unmanageable. I’m sorry my wife and her husband don’t have more sobriety under their belts. I’m sure my son’s presence in their home caused some uncomfortable adjustments.

If they stay up all night and sleep until 2 pm as well, how was my son to get the message that “this is okay for us, but not okay for you.” They are adults. Retired. He needs some structure and boundaries. He needs to get a job.

This is where my son and I joined arms last summer. He was essentially kicked out of their house after repeated refusals to just “get a job.” Any job. Pick a job.

He came to my house ready for work. As it turned out last summer, I had a project I thought I could use his computer science experience on. I engaged a former colleague and established a $1,000 budget for a simple ChatGPT project. My son could build these in his sleep. If he slept, that is. Anyway, it seemed like a perfect project. It got him out of his mom’s house. It suggested an income and the responsibility to get up at a normal hour, business hours, and get the job done. I could buffer the relationship with the client, my friend.

After a few Zoom meetings, which went well, he simply stopped working on the project. I don’t know what he was working on. Perhaps it was his “classes,” the two he needed to graduate that had been shifted to remote to accommodate his hardship. I was trying to give him a positive path forward, an option for money, getting out from under “the board,” and time to establish a healthy routine. It lasted two days.

Actually, today, June 10th, I am back in the waiting to see if/where/when he will surface again. I’ve prepped myself to the idea of his death. Overdose (of the drugs he swears he’s not taking). Gun violence. Or a high-speed car chase ending with him passing through the windshield into infinity. I have to let go.

The Al-Anon reading was clear. “You’ve already done too much. It is time to let go.”

I breathe. Sitting in the same chair where months ago, I awaited the awakening of his mom and all the others around him. I am not waiting, today. In some ways, this book is my own moving on. My own recovery story. My dad, his dad, my son, and me, entwined in some anti-heroic epic shared in the *rooms* of AA and Al-Anon. I, me, my. That’s all I can focus on at this moment. Weaving my creative response to life. Here is where I find my own comfort.

“I’m as happy as I have ever been,” becomes a bitter mantra under these circumstances, yet I would call myself content. It is my serenity that I stay focused on, even as those around me are setting themselves ablaze.

I accept that my son has his separate journey up and out. He has his own higher power. I am just another person on the path to recovery and healthy living. I cannot determine or write the ending, as the lives continue to unspool along these pages. Words, images, and recordings are mapped into stories told and then forgotten. We’ve all seen how these things work out. For better or worse, my son has to do it for himself. I am no longer chasing my son. I am waiting to make him breakfast again, looking forward to the better days ahead. And, the truth is, I don’t know. I’m scared. My flywheel of panic is spinning just below the space where my gall bladder was removed.

Something is not right, it says. Your son, it says. Pay attention, it says.

I have learned to wait actively rather than passively. I’ll write. I’ll sing. I’ll keep looking for better employment for me. Keep in my own lane. And let some other team, higher power or not, take the lead from here.

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