Sunday morning, very early, I got the kind of text message no mother ever wants to get from one of her children: I want to end my life; I need help.
I was asleep when the text message came and I was either walking the dog or had the stereo too loud to hear the next three phone calls that followed. When I finally did pick up the phone, in a good mood because Chris and I had fixed up a little tray of snacks for us to enjoy while watching the Daytona 500 later that afternoon, and heard just that one word -- "Mom?" -- in a tone of voice I'd never heard coming from my adult son before, my stomach contracted. I immediately had to sit down. I was certain he'd murdered someone.
In a matter of minutes we were in the car and on our way south to pick him up and bring him back here. I had made a couple of phone calls about facilities he might check into in the Syracuse area, on the ride down, not really knowing what to do, flying by the seat of my pants. The ride from Syracuse to Binghamton takes a good hour. About half way there, I received a phone call from the former girlfriend asking if we were really on our way, were we really getting a UHaul and picking up his things or was this just a ploy to get her to see him again? It was all news to me, but a phone call later, yes, this was his plan. She had been doing that horrible "I don't know if I want you now that you're finally out of jail or my new guy" dance and my son, quite frankly, didn't feel he needed to wait to get his life together much longer. He'd already wasted four months being in jail for no fault of his own.....if she couldn't wait for him after being with him for five years, didn't that tell him where her heart was, after all?
We moved him out, he kept his cool. I was never more proud of him than I was on sunday for the way he handled it. Chris and I were of very little help....me with my arm still hurting from recent surgery and Chris's knee smarting (his surgery is next week). But we provided just enough moral support for the son to take the first step he needed to get the pieces of his life rearranged.
We stored his furniture (she had moved out of the apartment they had shared and into a new one, but had not given my son or anyone else the new address --- yet she'd felt free to be using all of the furniture his grandmother had given them....jeesh) in a friend's garage in Binghamton for him to use when he finds a new place and then brought him back up here with us. He's slept a ton, raided the refrigerator and romped around with Rupert. Rupert -- who has an incredible instinct to simply know and latch on to someone who isn't feeling well or in a crisis mode -- didn't leave his side, cuddling with him on the couch or bringing him toys to play with.
And we saw the son smiling again. He's staying with some friends in the town he grew up in. An old girlfriend took him out on the town last night. He's healing. We're breathing again....all except Rupert, who sits by the back door waiting for him to come back. He'll be heading back to Binghamton to start over soon.
As I said to my friend Denise, I found it difficult to remember how to be a mother through all this. It's been a long time since I've had a kid around. I wanted to just pull him into my lap and hug him, but that would have been a ridiculous sight now that he's six foot tall. I hope we did the right thing.