This is the first time I’ve written in 13 weeks. Just a few days ago I began to feel my bones again. Began to feel the tug of Life, reminding me that I’m here, with work to do, relationships to feel, appreciate and tend. Outside in the front south garden, the one that is ironically my nemesis for its shady wetness, I looked over at the place I had trained myself not to look - the place where my 18 year old son vomited in the gravel one night in late spring. At the time it was an un-landed shiver in my spine. A deep rent in my gut. It whispered bone-chilling warnings that something was very wrong with him, though I couldn’t (or wouldn’t?) really look at what that was.
Time doesn’t necessarily heal all things, but Life is the prime directive, and as such, it simply goes on. New things sprout, clean up crews come in, Life feeds on Death, Death claims Life. This morning, if you were standing in my front garden glancing at the gravel, you wouldn’t notice a thing. My heart still knows, and will for the rest of this lifetime, though even this incredible organ will metabolize the experience over time.
Four weeks after I noticed the vomit outside our house, and ten weeks ago, our son came to us, the day after his graduation from high school, to tell us he was a heroin addict and needed our help. I won’t bother with the disclaimers. They are irrelevant at this point in the process of our children’s passage into initiated adults. But let me warn you, if you hear a voice inside your head saying, “oh, poor Christiane, but I’m so glad my child isn’t at risk...” please discard that dangerous belief and lean further into your child’s life. Every young one in this culture is at risk of losing their way in terrain fraught with alluring untruths, disappointing adults, and almost zero access to soulful initiation. Deadly predators come in all shapes and sizes.
At some point in the near future I imagine I will write about the actual process of guiding our son through his detox; of losing him again to his addiction; of learning how to kick him out of our homes, cleaning his rooms of all his stuff and bringing it to Good Will; of calling his friends and begging them to turn him away, not to feed or house his addiction; of sobbing on the floor at night until nothing was left to feel; of making enemies out of those closest to me because someone needed to be blamed here; of eventually assisting him to find his way to residential rehab in California and the process that is still underway of him turning back to his life, of learning how to pray; of Life being right there to receive him, while he cultivates a new path in the world as a young man (which, heartbreakingly and understandably, will never again be in Boulder); and finally of saying goodbye to my oldest son and hello to the young man of him - as is appropriate and necessary at this stage of his life - but doing it in a way, and under circumstances which, I could never have imagined. At some point I will write about finding my way into the deepest fiercest experiences of Love and Beauty I have ever known and of feeling permanently less human and more animal because of this.
But today, what I’m aware of is this: we are never, never, forgotten. Life does not forsake us. In these last three months, while on the front lines of our son’s process with addiction, when nearly every moment felt like it contained terror unfathomable to rational thinking, I did not have a body. Most days, I did not even have a heart. I did not have legs or arms or organs. I had a mind and it’s dual focus was to shepherd our one child into whatever was his true path (whether death or life, we didn’t know) and to circle the wagons around the rest of our children. The Earthquake Man and I (along with my boys’ father and his incredible partner) became an unflappable team of collaboration, ever outdoing ourselves with things we thought we would never say to anyone let alone our own child. In this place, there is no room for the body. On the front lines, it’s all about the mission.
In this place I completely lost my own life. I lost the passion for the book I have been writing for five years. I lost the devotion I have for the women of this world, feeling like my care for anything other than my son was an absurd luxury in the face of his possible death. I lost the urgency that, before, defined me to resurrect our wild erotic intelligence and availability to this world as if all life depended on it. I lost the language. I lost my spirit. I lost my way, just as my son lost his.
But even in this place my life didn’t lose me. Just a few days ago (one week into our son’s safe placement) as I was tending to the pond at The Center On The Edge, noticing tiny brown minnows and water skeeters who had all found their way to the water without human hands, I felt a nudge. I felt what has no doubt been nudging me all this time but I couldn’t feel it. I felt the gentle miraculous nuzzle, like the soft insistent nose of a foal on my cheek. I felt all that, and even more miraculously to me in the moment, I felt my own self respond with the ‘yes’ I have known for so long. I felt my heart fill up. Tears of joy release. I felt the urge to write. Words began weaving in my mind, putting language to what was happening all around me, like the moment in a film when it goes from black and white to full-spectrum technicolor. It felt like I had found my way home again, and my home was there, fire ablaze, door open, warm food on the table.
I have no idea how this works. And I can barely speak about the gratitude I have for the fact of it. But what I know is that we are so dear to this life, to Life. We are as important to it as it is to us....perhaps, in these days of our epidemic human lost-ness, even more so. For me Faith has become defined as a remembering that, no matter what we are experiencing, whether we are inhaling heroin or being called to become a warrior-in-service-of, we are never forgotten. We never become inconsequential. One of our greatest, most difficult yet most critical, human tasks is to remember this. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground...the thing that does not waver is the ground.