Saturday, March 17, 2012

who's leaving who?

I don't know if he left, or if I did. Or whose leaving made the biggest impression.

It started before my choir concert. I'd bought their tickets - one for The Little One, one for The Oldest  and one for The Oldest's omnipresent friend. I'd given them bus instructions. Made sure they knew when to leave and where to get off. One bus, from straight in front of our home to the intersection beside the church.

I watched, my heart breaking with every completed song they missed. My mind racing - where did they go instead? Why don't I matter? This was important to me, why don't they get that.

It was my choir's Mother's Day concert, and my first solo - "Oh How Happy You Have Made Me." And I was miserable. Could barely keep the fake smile plastered on my face.

By the time I got home, The Oldest watching TV, while The Little One waited out the impending storm in his room, I exploded.

How dare you?

Where the hell were you?


Apologies and tears and excuses and finger pointing and the same old same old. They'd missed the stop. Decided it was too late and not worth going back.

My friend arrived, urged me out the door, said that never would he ever stand for me speaking to my sons like that again. And got me out of that space. My whole body was shaking with rage.

By the time I returned, several hours and a calming cocktail or two later, The Oldest was gone. The Little One played possum in his bed. I worried. Tried to work out where he might be. I called the one or two friends of his I had numbers for. Then sat on his bed and cried.

What I couldn't shake, through my tears and frustration and fatigue, was the continually growing smell of the weed. Surely, if he was gone, the weed smell should be getting milder, not stronger. I turned out the light and noticed something odd - a light in his closet.

Pulling back the bifold doors, years of indignation and outrage surged through me - 20 or so juvenile pot plants growing in moldy open suitcases under the hot lights of desk lamps that had been stapled to the walls.

How could he? How could he bring that level of criminality into this house? How could he threaten the life and safety of his own brother with that crazy dangerous tangle of wires? How could he think I would never find out?

I piled it all into garbage bags and a broken laundry basket, ripping chunks out of the gyproc with every tug of the electrical cords. In the dark of the night, I dumped it in our townhouse complex garbage bins. Given our neighbours, we would not be the first house searched if anyone saw it.

I dropped into bed, wondered if he was safe, and cried myself to sleep.

The next morning I called a coach, my voice hoarse from crying. "How can I possibly be happy when I don't even know where he is. It's Mother's Day - what kind of mother am I?" He answered, "wow, what kind of pressure must it be for a 17 year old boy to be responsible for his mother's happiness. Go enjoy your day with The Little One - he deserves it."

That evening I posted a notice for The Oldest on the front door: "We love you and miss you, but you are not welcome here unless - you stop smoking weed, you remove any and all drug paraphernalia from this house", etc etc. I don't really remember all the rules. There were 4. Honouring your mother was somewhere on it.

Just as I was trying to drift to sleep again, the doorbell rang. He had aged 10 years in 24 hours. Somehow he'd made it as far as Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. A street person had taken pity on him, so young and so obviously over his head. The man had shared his fire, and watched over The Oldest while he slept.

I don't know what he'd eaten, not much of anything since he didn't have money for the ferry, the buses and food. He was tired, hungry, and smelled of the streets, and yet I made him stand there and agree to those rules.

That was as bad as it got for a while. I'd taught him to be more surreptitious, but not much else. But at least he'd come back. I guess.
Scintilla Weekend Prompt:

Talk about a time when you left home.


  1. Ohhhh...motherhoods joys and sorrows. I am curious about what came next... would love to read more of your words. Hauntingly beautiful (and I am so glad you stuck it out and wrote here!)

    1. Hi Julie - the stories come back to me in fits & starts ... I'm not sure I know what came immediately after, but I know we've fallen down some hills since then. Thank you for reading, and for comments.

  2. Wow... that's a really powerful story. Thanks for sharing. You wrote it so well -- I could feel your anger in me and I've never experienced anything like what you went through so it wasn't a replay of my life, it was you writing and me being drawn into yours.

    1. That's such a powerful compliments, Annette. Thank you. It amazes me that 5 years later I can still feel remnants of that anger while writing it. Ah. Life.

  3. That was absolutely heartbreaking and such a brave story for you to share. As Julie said, I would love to know what happened next and I am thrilled that you are taking part in Scintilla.

    1. Thanks, Stereo - perhaps as Scintilla continues, more of the gaps will be filled in. Right now it's a haze of everyday, punctuated with moments of catastrophe.