When I 'met' Paul at LATOC in October of 2008 I'd just had one of those adventures a body hopes never to have (I'd witnessed two Junior Leaguer types brawling in a gas station fuel pump line). I was in the middle of renovating a 40 year old Tin Shack clinging precariously to the side of a north Georgia, USA, mountainside, and wondering if I would manage to avoid being called Crazy Cat Lady by the neighbours as I aged.
I was so steeped in grief and what I know was clinical depression that I was in a numb fog-one foot in front of the other, and try not to attract undue attention as I fretted about growing old alone in the rough and tumble area I'd fetched up on.
I'd been at it for years-what did I do wrong, where did I make that final misstep that led to my son's problems. A constant examination and re-examination of parental mistakes that turned my beautiful boy into a snarling hyena, and by 2008 I was very close to having given up hope that I would ever see my son or his son again. By August of 2010 I was so sure of it that I didn't even try to talk Paul into coming to the States to meet me in person-I threw some things into a couple of small suitcase and a rolling laptop case, and sleepwalked across the Atlantic.
I look at our wedding pictures, and except for a very few, I look as though I am about to throw up, or run for the hills. I told Paul yesterday that I hope his friends believe that I am so happy I am truly over the moon, because if they look at those pictures, they sure won't think I am!
But I am, and I think I may just be getting to the point now where I am willing to let myself feel the joy.
In two weeks I will be getting off the plane and looking for my son at the baggage claim exit door. Right now he is far more excited about it than I am, and I've been thinking a lot about that.
Why is he so excited to see me, why after all these years of what I'd really come to believe was hate, and anger? Could I believe that he was meant it when he apologised for all of the grief? Over the past few months as I have spoken with my son on the phone on Sunday afternoons, I've always been left with a profound bemusement-doesn't he remember how much he hated me? The bemusement has of course left me with a sense of the surreal, the feeling I'd better not let my hopes get up too high...which of course is how I felt about Paul and I getting together-surely something will go wrong if I am such a loser that my own son has turned on me.
I've pondered it ever since I first spoke to Fox again after all these years-why the hell am I not doing backflips of joy? I mean hey, I've got it all, this really fantastic new husband, and my beautiful boy sounded like an adult version of the 11 year old who disappeared into his room one day, and didn't come back out until just before Thanksgiving 2010.
Because that's what happened-my funny, witty, brilliant 11 year old son went to bed one night, and a snarling little monster emerged the next morning to make the next 17 years a living nightmare for everyone around him. It seems, in retrospect, just that abrupt. of course it really wasn't, but it sure seemed it then. Things escalated steadily, I caught him drinking, I caught him with an ever increasing litany of crimes and misdemeanors including drug possession, vandalism, theft, of course, lies, lies, lies, and hurled abuse.
And now it's over. the 11 year old is back, as a 28 year old man who is just amazing. It is as if he never left, never went through all of that horror-and I was having the worst time understanding how it could have happened, got so bad, stayed so bad, got worse so that by the time he was 21, I'd put him through rehab twice. Slogged through priest and psychologist appointments. Had every conceivable medical test run. And finally, gave up, let go of hope, and left the States-only to get an email in the second week of Nov 2010 that Fox was ready to 'come home'.
How do you cope with something that enormous yet I did, and was well on the way to thinking I was something of an unfeeling monster because I couldn't get too excited about it all.
(Forehead smack) D'uh.
This last Sunday while Fox and I laughed and chatted about the upcoming trip, his friend came in, and shouted "Hi Miss B". I was stunned-I'd've known that voice anywhere-it was the old Roomie from Georgia. I'd heard he was back in AL, and that he'd voluntarily checked into rehab that two years later was still working. I was gobsmacked-didn't Fox know? Surely Roomie had given Fox some version of the ten months we'd spent as roommates, surely Fox had been told by Ed (who'd been kept up to date on my doings as I was kept up to date on Fox's by Ed)? How could they be so casual??!!
This morning it really hit me-the drugs and alcohol. They don't remember most of what all happened back then with either of them. They've both made the required apologies to the people they hurt, and they are moving forward. I've been out of the loop up there on that crag and now over here in Scotland, while they've been there having to face nearly all of the people they hurt so badly over the years...
Neither of them recall just how bad it was because of the god damned drugs-from everything Fox has said to me the past few months, he knows it was very bad, he just apparently doesn't recall too many of the details. I will have to assume that it is the same as regards Roomie-both lads know it was bad, just details are fuzzy, and can we keep it that way? Can we just accept the obviously meant and profound apologies without having to hash through all of the details of just why those apologies are needed?
I wonder how Roomie's mum took that, although knowing her I suspect she took it very well indeed-she always was a rather amazing woman. I can be rather amazing myself.
And the area they live in is rather amazing, too. Over the years I lived there I'd watched a very small town filled with equally small people through the years gracefully, astonishingly, accept the reformation of many it's citizens who'd cleaned up their acts. Now my son and my former roommate have been re-accepted, and I'm glad for them. Very.
So now I can begin to feel the joy:) I'm crocheting Paul a scarf to wear while I'm gone, it won't warm up here till July, LOL, I'll be back by the end of March, God willing, so my husband needs a scarf I made for him to wrap around his neck and remind him who loves him. It's almost finished, and then I'll start one for my son, who has asked for one as long as a Dr Who scarf-nae bother, since long scarves are the only way to do a proper scarf!
I'll get on the plane and pray my way through take-offs and landing (gulp), and then I'll see my son, and my grandson, and I'll visit with old friends, and I'll visit graves to pay my respects, and I'll get my residency card, and I'll cram a lifetime's worth of master sewing patterns and notions that I can't get in the UK inexpensively for the return home. And I'll check on Mozart and Gonzo since I have to get my paperwork done at the consulate in Atlanta-Fox and I are going to spend two days up there.