To my daughter.
It’s been nearly three years since we last talked. A lifetime before that you got hooked on drugs…and then on alcohol. A lot’s happened in the past twenty seven years.
Yesterday was Father’s Day and I was, as happens occasionally, alone at church. The tears leaked out when the music started. You were there–but only as a whisper in my heart; a memory in my mind.
My life is better than I would ever have thought possible but sometimes the old dreams I had for you, for me, for us sneak back in and I mourn for what could have been. Sometimes, I shut these un-beckoned dreams of everyday things down, and sometimes, like yesterday, I let them stay awhile until I have to say goodbye, so I can survive.
Your oldest son, Chad, became my youngest son long before I adopted him. Maybe he and I started bonding as mother and son when I used to bring him home to babysit overnight and bathe away the smoke, and let him spend a day in dry diapers. Maybe it didn’t begin until I watched him tuck his little hand in the engulfing one of the transport volunteer who returned him to his foster home after the state stepped in. I’d like to think, even though he never looked back, that Chad knew I was there then and that I would always be there whenever he needed me.
Back then, I thought you’d make it. Back then, I didn’t realize that drugs don’t give up.
At first, I was just another grandmother raising my grandson.
Abused by his birth dad. Abused by you. Chad deserved better…all kids do. I spent my savings on attorneys. I was strong during court hearings and sobbed my way through the nights.
He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress at age four. He and I lived through years of his waking up nightly screaming from nightmares he couldn’t explain. We made it through years of his being afraid to let me out of his sight and his “I love you,” to me fifty times a day which was his way of saying, “I’m scared…”
Trauma and drama…drugs don’t give up.
Then I adopted Chad to keep him safe, and because I loved him with my whole heart.
Cutting. Suicidal. Punching holes in walls. Swearing at me.
Remorse. Rewind. Replay once again.
We made it through. Now he is a man.
Yesterday, I wished him Happy Father’s Day. His little girl is now 18-months-old and a charmer. I see in her your self-determination and a bit of your curly hair as twice a week we (my husband (her beloved Papa)) and I take care of her so her mama and daddy can go to work.
What you’ll never know is baby kisses beat drug highs, and even messy diapers are better than alcohol lows.
I miss Chad’s half sisters–your daughters, my granddaughters. From you, them, and Facebook, I know the oldest lost her virginity at twelve, her slightly younger sister, who I always wanted to scoop up and cuddle because she seemed so sad, posted, “Why can’t anyone see me…I’m hurting too”), and their baby sister who you said told her fifth grade counselor that she had been raped.
We’ve all been raped, tattered and torn. Meth, opioids, alcohol—drugs abuse families.
I won’t give up, but everyday I try letting go.