How did we get here?

We took our five year old grandson to Disney last week.  It’s a tradition with us, once a grandchild turns 5 we take them on a trip — he is the third one, and the second to pick Disney as his destination.

I’m not a Disney girl.  It often feels staged and pushy, the crowds get me confused and I don’t have the patience to wait for 20 minutes ( with fast pass ) for a four minute “attraction” which may be little more than a loud neon painted carnival ride.

But, it seems to be an American Right of Passage and the grandkids love it, so I suck it up and ultimately get pulled into the pageantry and hoopla.  The one on one time with a grandchild is a treat indeed — so I push my cynicism aside and experience the Magic that is DisneyWorld.

Last Thursday evening I sat on the curb, grandson between my knees, surrounded by glow sticks and 5 year olds and watched a High School band march around the circle  in Magic Kingdom.  And, as I experienced and shared the things a child’s life should be made of — friends and music, adventure and accomplishment, Light Sabers and giggles — I tried to wrap my head around the chaos of the news that had come to me from my home town, hours earlier in the day.

You may have heard of, but probably not, Wilmington Delaware.  I grew up here, an iconic place to live, diverse, blue collar, close to the beach, Philadelphia and New York.  My friends and I thought nothing of unlocked doors and late night walks and going to dances to listen to the band.

Lately though, things have changed.  Plagued by violence, unemployment, heroin gone wild, the city has become dark, dirty,  sadness and despair permeate the air.  The news paper and television call it “Killmington” and “Murderville”, guns are everywhere, parents scared to let their kids go to the park, or onto their own front stoops.

And, on Thursday a 16 year old girl was beaten to death, TO DEATH, in the bathroom of her school.  Good God, her school. There are rumors flying about the reason, as if there could be one, or the manner in which the death occurred, but whether her head was slammed into a sink or she was stabbed, whether there were 2 assailants or 6, whether she went into that bathroom to fight a peer or discuss a problem, one thing is certain, she is dead.  All the blue balloons sent to the sky as children yell “RIP AMY”, all the vigils and television interviews won’t bring her back.  There is nothing poetic or symbolic about this.  It is sick.  It is unacceptable that a young person could walk into her school at 7:45 and never walk out.  killed at the hands of her peers, beaten to death.

I didn’t know Amy, I don’t understand the anger that could make you kill someone, and I don’t know how to solve this rage that fills so many of our young people.  Church?  Parenting?  Mentoring?  Hope?  I don’t know, I am so saddened that I just don’t know.

And, as  I sat and wondered, my grandson lifted his head and said, I love you grammy. My joy was muddled with the thoughts of a mother that will never hear her daughter say those words again.

you just never know…

I had a meeting today with a VERY IMPORTANT LADY. I say that in caps. because it is true.  She is amazing, in her 60’s, spends her days volunteering, donating, supporting women’s causes.  She speaks her mind and swears at meetings.  I admire her more than I can say.

So today she came to my office to help me with a project.  we sat at the table together, and she said,  ” So, tell me about the kids….” I shared the ups and downs of my three, starting with the  oldest, working down to our youngest.  Shared that our youngest child’s battle with and victory over, bulimia had shaped the last 9 years of my life, had given me renewed purpose.  When I finished, she looked me dead in the eye and said ” I had that”.  She went on to share her own battle with binging and purging, and how, for a time, she felt she had discovered the greatest thing — eating without calorie increase.   We discussed how, and why, she had stopped.  How she had committed herself to healthy eating, but still, over 40 years later, struggles with binging and then being disgusted with her lack of “control”.  We spent almost 2 hours sharing viewpoints, research, ideas and dreams  about the importance and impact of this disease.

Damn.

I look at her and am, once again, incensed at the ability of this disease to work its way into a life full of promise.  And at how, though she is successful, a strong woman,  wonderful parent and giver — she still has to fight with self hate.  And, once again, my passion is renewed.  We have to fight this.  We have to beat this.  We have to provide support for sufferers and families….

And then, as we finished our project and sat back, proud of what we had accomplished, nursing  a cup of tea — she said “you know I never told anyone about this. My husband doesn’t know this about me, my parents didn’t know…

Damn.

I thanked her for trusting me.  For opening her heart and her mind and for believing in herself enough to know that she can say the words out loud and still be safe.

asking…

I stayed home from work today.  Appears I have vertigo — leaving me nauseous and dizzy and wobbly….around noon  I received a rambling text from a former student.  not just any student, this kid was in my class for 6 years — middle school and high school. talented, empathetic, stubborn, ridiculously beautiful, easily led.

She floundered junior and senior year.  her mom got sick, her friends ran wild and she ran with them.  Barely graduated, barely.  Thinking back, they did her no favors pushing her on and through.  she may have benefited from another year of structure.

But it was not to  be.  She graduated. straight into drug use, abuse, addiction.  went to jail, to rehab, to halfway houses, to rehab…..struggled.  got in touch with me when she was clean and then would disappear for months.

Until, around 3 years ago “momma rock, I’m pregnant…hes a great guy, in treatment too, we understand each other…” struggled to stay clean in pregnancy, failed. Baby daddy disappeared.  Baby born addicted to heroin, 3 weeks in a locked ward in the hospital, then sent home with mom — no requirement for treatment or followup required.

For the past 2 years she has been in and out of touch.  mom and I speak fairly regularly.  She asks me to touch base every once in a while, says Kelli feels a bond with me.  Mom has custody of the baby, beautiful 2 year old Kenna.

So, today I get a text.  Asking me to find her a shelter.  Asking me to forgive her, asking me for money.  I sent her the centralized intake number for shelter.  Told her she never had to ask me to forgive her anything, but that I could not give her money.  She typed ” I understand” and not another word.

I contacted mom and told her of our conversation, she thanked me for giving her the number and said, she too didn’t know if kelli was clean or using and that she understood why i didn’t offer cash.

I wish I had offered to take her shopping.  I wish I had been able to drive her to a shelter.  I wish heroin had not gotten ahold, so many years ago, of such a beautiful, innocent soul.

 

 

 

It has been

a rough day.  Professionally.  You try and try, you work and work….and find yourself attacked.  It hurts, it angers, it makes you wonder if it is worth it at all….

spirits and wishes

I have a dear friend who lost her son to heroin three Christmas’ ago.  He had been fighting addiction for years — good kid, good family, bad drug, terrible ending.  Tonight she posted on facebook that she received a gift from a friend to attend a medium’s performance today.  Posted a picture of her and her 3 friends, all mothers of lost children, smiling, you could see the hope in their eyes.

And I realized, once again, how blessed and lucky I am. Today I saw all three of my kids. Hugged and spoke with all 7 of my grandchildren.  Saw my kids with their chosen partners, in love.

But for the grace…you know the rest.  I get to hold my children, all three of them.  Love them, argue with them, buy them things, make them things.  cook for them.  My friend visits the grave, fights the good fight, works to make a difference for other families.  Mourns and misses her son every minute of every day.

I really hope she heard from Ty through the medium.  I hope he told her he was fine, living the good life on the other side, clean and clear headed, watching his siblings and his dog and her and his dad fight the war on drugs. I really hope she had the sensation of a warm hug from her son.  One more time.

dad

Tonight I saw a picture of my dad, probably taken in or around 1995 or 96.  Arm around his sister, cigarette dangling from his fingers, tatoos still clear and proud.  damn I miss him.  That smile, that laugh, those eyes that never, well almost never, lost their sparkle.  He loved life, loved the people around him, loved to be doing something, almost anything.  this man could make sitting at the tides edge, digging for shells and fiddler crabs a whole day’s adventure.

I hope my kids remember their dad and I the way I remember dad.  Always present, always caring, always mine.  B0000062