My daughther, who has managed to enter her last semster of college 1000 miles away and is preparing to graduate in May told me in a cold and detached voice that she did not want her brother present for her big moment. In fact she did not want him in her life in any way. While the words stunned me and sank within my mother's gut like a terrible anchor of grief I understand my girl's wishes and allow that she is justified in her own right as a sibling.
Her younger brother, the one she watched come from within me with much work, sweat, tears and joy in his planned homebirth is now the antithesis of what such a coordinated event was to have nurtured. The loving bond that I strived so hard to set for my two children 19 years ago was severed in a methodical, relentless manner by a young man I recognized by face as my son but saw little of the familar in his stranger's actions.
While my daugher went through her senior year of high school I was doing my best to keep her brother in counseling to stay in school and keep him safe from his own unconsciable actions. While my daughter was in her freshman year of college down south, miles and miles away from her mother and brother up in New England I was attending full saturday Family Counseling at the resident adolescent rehab facility my son agreed to participate in for 6 months. While my daugher struggled her world of life away from home, culture shock, aggressive academic expectations and the typical angst of an 18 year old girl my 15 year old boy was pealing back painful layers of his psyche in an effort to free himself from the cruel dependency that taking drugs had placed on his life. On all of our lives.
When he finished his program to resounding applause from residents, counselors, peers, parents and his sister who had surprised us all by booking her own flight home to be present for his achievement I let myself wash clean with tears of joy and hope and pride for both of my children. Both of my warrior children.
While my daugher went through her sophomore year of college and her brother relapsed halfway through the school year she was careful to plan her junior year trip to India by herself knowing that my attention was diverted yet again with the act of saving someone unable to act on his own behalf and still within my specturm of care with his minor status. When my daughter came home from her sophomore year of college for what she called her last real summer of childhood before having to act like a grownup, she spent every single saturday of her summer break waking up early to drive the hour stretch along stomach churning NH mountain roads for family counseling where she would spend the morning with her brother and his peers playing quiet games of cards, checkers, etc. while us parents went through our grueling group session. After an awkward, forced lunch the entire program of families would meet for an afternoon session of Group Family Counseling that can only be compared to dental surgery without novacaine.
And when we would finally leave at 4:30 for the hour long drive back home my daughter would siliently hold my hand as the other gripped the steering wheel while I choked out anquished cries and tried franitcally to see the mountain's winding road in front of me through my tears.
Completion of this second program brought my son home just in time for the holidays where the quiet bond of commraderie in battle seemed apparent in the sweet and lightly teasing banter of my two babies and I felt joy in front of the christmas tree for the first time in years.
And yet another relapse was written for my son and this time the destructive nature of his age and sickness resulted in him dropping out of school six weeks before he would have graduated from high school. He left our house to live wherever he could crash because his inability to keep drugs out of our four walls made him a criminal in his own home. He eventually fled to his father's home state where his behaviors would be met with a conspiratory agreement that I was an over- reactive joke of a parent and of course what he was doing was fine- everybody's young once ya know and you're not hurting anybody.
The final straw lay fluttering on my sweet daughter's back.
The brother she supported as whole-heartedly as any busy, productive, and independent young person possibly could had betrayed her yet again. My heart attack a week before Christmas was all the excuse she needed to bury her hurt deep within a pit of anger and disgust. It was all HIS fault and while I know in my head that is not entirely true there is no denying the continued level of stress she and I have been under since he first OD'd at the age of 13. At 18, with the blessing of the legal system no longer terming him a minor he is gone- teasing the fragility of his life and seemingly following the same footsteps left years earlier by his father.
So I understand this announcement made by my beautiful, proud, remarkable daughter friend. That she does not want either her brother or her father anywhere near her graduation ceremony. I do understand this. However, the finalizing ramfication of her edict becomes apparent to my bruised mother's ego. The dream I had held as a single mother has always been that I have raised my daughter and my son to be each other's best friends. To support and sustain each other as two legs of the three legged stool we are of a family. That if anything happened to me they would always, always have each other.
And now I am placing that hope at my feet where so many others lie.