Lucky Red Wallet

Lucky Red Wallet

MotherWarrior's picture
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Lucky Red Wallet
Judy Kirkwood

On a recent visit to New York City I lost my red fabric coin purse that I used as a wallet--left it in a cab, or dropped it on the pavement when I exited the cab. While filing a police report at the 17th precinct, canceling my credit cards, and wondering how I would fly home without my Drivers License picture ID, I kept replaying images of my red wallet in my head. It had served me well, often substituting for a shoulder bag or standard size purse; I could slip it in my pocket, keep it in my hand.

I also slept with it under my pillow or mattress during the time my teenage son was a practicing drug addict once I realized that he was stealing money from it to buy drugs. I did not know it at the time, but all parents of addicts face this dilemma. The nature of addiction is the drive to get drugs by any means. Our lives were out of control much of the time. But I always felt calmer when I had my red wallet in my hand. Whether working or socializing, eating or sleeping, holding onto my wallet was as natural as holding a child's hand when crossing the street.

I was able to board my flight home from New York with a copy of my passport that my husband faxed to me. Losing my wallet had been an inconvenience, but I lost nothing of value. Its absence had brought back memories of struggles, but also gratitude for my son’s recovery from active drug use. I had been told more than once to prepare myself for his death by overdose. He has survived to the age of 20 and is working on living a healthy life.

Treatment for addiction costs a lot of money. Counseling and psychiatrists cost a lot of money. Insurance in this country covers only a tiny fraction of the expense of recovery, usually less than a month, even though chances of success and survival increase tremendously with a longer stay in residential treatment. Money has been an issue for us at times as we have tried to help our son get the services he needs. I had $126 in cash in my wallet for cabs and incidentals that I was trying not to spend, and a gift card from a friend for $50 for myself, but the world is filled with other forms of abundance.

About a week after returning home I opened a letter from the New York City Police Department. My red wallet had been found with all the credit cards and cash, and would be returned to me as soon as I sent notarized proof of identification. I am amazed at the honesty of New Yorkers--whoever found it and turned it in and those who processed the lost property and sent it back to me. When one person does the right thing, the world becomes a better place for all.

My red wallet fits into my hand perfectly. Looking at it I remember how it was almost like a beating heart under my pillow or below my mattress, keeping me company during sleepless nights when I did not know where my son was or if he would be alive in the morning. Worn and insignificant as it looks, it is something to hold onto, as well as evidence that good things can happen even when you think all is lost. Don’t give up. There is hope.

Judy Kirkwood writes for magazines and websites and is a member of the National Parent Network and was one of the original Parent Advisory Board members for the Partnership at

User Comments

Olivia's picture

You definitely live up to your name, MotherWarrior. It sounds like it’s been a bumpy 9 years of highs and lows. I’m glad to hear things are brightening up all around. You mentioned being “lovingly disengaged, though still supportive” – could you explain that a little more? What is being lovingly disengaged and why does it work? Thanks for sharing your story -- your strength and spirit is inspirational to all parents.