Monday, March 26, 2007


If you read my blog a week ago, you might have seen a post that I later deleted. It was reactive and not well-written, and I simply didn't feel right about leaving it up. But now I know more information and the story makes more sense and I've been asked to tell this family's story. So I am. Names and details have been changed.

Life can turn on a dime.

Not even two weeks ago, I was sitting at my dining room table drinking a cup of coffee with my son's best friend's mother, Julie. My Roomba was doing the housework, and we were discussing the merits of robot vacuum cleaners and other types. Because their family was about to move to Phoenix (boo hoo) into a new house that was somewhat similar to our house. They were excited about the move: her husband had gotten a great job offer, their house here was already sold, and the new neighborhood, and nearby school, looked like a perfect fit for the family. While sad that Jimmy, my son's best friend since preschool (that's over five years of friendship in a not-quite-eight-year life, not insignificant) was moving (plus, this family and ours would swap out spending the night, which has been great for organizing date nights), I was happy that they were going in such a positive direction. That morning, this mother and I talked about getting our families together one more time before her husband, and then she and the kids, moved several states away. We planned a few more sleepovers so the boys would have plenty of time together before the move.

I went out of town that weekend, just for about 39 hours. I was without internet most of the time, until I got to the airport for my return flight. Imagine my surprise when I read my email from my husband.

I hope you are doing well and having at least a bit of fun. The kids are out playing in the block party and I think it is a huge success; inflatables, cotton candy, face painting, music, hot dogs and hamburgers, etc.

But I had to let you know something; there is BIG, disturbing news at the Jones household. Seriously. Neither Bob nor Julie are in Memphis right now. It seems that Bob has a bit of a CRACK problem, and went on a bender last night. I don't know exactly what happened, but Julie said she sent him off (to Texas? I think). And she is somewhere else, but she will be back tomorrow.

I couldn't keep this to myself; had to let you know.

Julie, a person I count as a friend, has been forced to make some heavy decisions this week. She had a blowout sleepover party for all the kids' friends on Friday (which I think is heroic). When I dropped the kids off, we talked a few minutes, just to figure out what was happening next. Since their home in Memphis is already under contract, they still have to move. Fortunately they have a friend who has a second home in the mountains of Arkansas who offered the use of that home as long as they need it. So they're still moving, just not quite as far away. Bob, whom I also count as a friend, is going to be in a five-month residential program (in another state). We kept Jimmy for the rest of the weekend as she made arrangements and coped.

Yesterday it all hit. I reached a level of sadness that I've not visited in a long time. Sadness at the whole situation. I'm sad that this man, this smart, witty, talented man, opened a door that he couldn't close. I'm trying very hard not to judge him, but I'll admit that this behavior is absolutely baffling to me. As a parent, there are things I'd never consider doing. Hard drugs? Top of the list.

But what breaks my heart the most is that this family's plans and dreams are gone. Jimmy was so excited about the new neighborhood's swimming pools and that the school took field trips every week. Julie was excited about living in a new house and meeting like-minded people in her new community. And buying a new vacuum cleaner. Now she's forced to make major decisions on her own, with three children that need her to take care of them. She has to consider the effects of these decisions: legally, ethically, financially. And there's not much room for error in this situation. The pressure of that is unimaginable to me.

What sticks out is something she said to me: "If it could happen to Bob, it could happen to anybody."

That's what I could tell was running through my kids' heads when I told them what was happening. (The kids aren't stupid; they knew something very strange was afoot, and Julie did tell us that Jimmy knew what was happening. She made Bob tell him before he went to the treatment center. So glad I wasn't in the room for that conversation.)

After we dropped Jimmy off with his grandmother, I asked them if Jimmy had told them anything about why they were moving to a different city. They didn't know anything. I told them as gently as I could that Bob had started doing drugs and that he had gotten sick from them and was in a hospital now so he could get better. I explained that they couldn't move where they had planned because Bob would not be able to work at his new job, and they couldn't live there without Bob working, and that he couldn't work while he was in the hospital.

They looked scared. Alex was already near tears because we had just said goodbye to Jimmy (and when we'll see him next is unknown). I made sure to tell them that we, Craig and I, would never ever ever do drugs. It won't happen to us. We won't do that to you. They looked relieved. As we talked, they put a few things together: So that's why Bob wasn't at the party? Is that why their car was broken?

When we got home, I asked them if they were glad I told them. They both told me they were; Susie told me that they had "deserved" to know what was going on (gah! 9 going on 40, anyone?). I hugged them tightly and suggested we all hang out together the rest of the evening.

Then I made serious comfort food and watched The Simpsons with my kids.

1 comment:

Lizard Eater said...

Holy smokes. I can't even imagine.