“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
With one phone call six weeks ago, I felt something worse than disappointment.
I was destroyed. My husband was, too.
We heard words so terrible, I shook with cold.
We were told awful things. Things that turned out not to be true.
It was as if an earthquake had hit paradise. How would we pick up the mess?
Could it be fixed? How bad was the destruction?
I relived the phone call over and over in my head. Aftershocks, some almost as terrible as the night of the event.
I flew across the country to be with our son. I found a young man afraid, alone in a strange town after a week in the hospital.
$50,000 in medical bills for a young man with a job that paid $13.00 an hour with no benefits, no overtime.
A young man with only a plastic trash bag full of his oldest, most worn out clothing.
Everything of value had been stolen while he was hospitalized. Gone was his laptop, his guitar, his pilot headphones. His folder of receipts. His checkbook. His birth certificate. His wallet. His social security card. His car title.
His face was bruised and scarred where the surgeon had stitched him back together after he was beaten. He tried to defend himself. That part scares me. The police said he was the victim. We had been told otherwise.
For the first time, I felt like I could trust a cop.
When my children were small, I cleaned up messes. Dirty diapers. Spit up on the shoulder of a blouse.
I flew up to a strange city to clean up a huge mess. Medical. Legal. Financial. I brought clean, new clothes, borrowed a GPS system. Ordered a replacement birth certificate. Froze accounts. Helped him file a police report.
And slowly, we left the big bully of a city, the one that devoured his every waking hour, his spirit, his body and laughed as it picked through his stuff for one last dollar and his favorite CDs. We drove away in an elderly minivan, prayers in my head for clear roads, strong brakes and fresh oil.
We drove over 1400 miles, through gray rain and past relatives and over deer spattered highways and the endless panhandle of Texas, past fields of chilies and cotton and into landscapes of purple and red rock and dust.
We are home. He’s here to heal, not to live with us forever. We keep telling him that. Don’t lose hope. It was a setback, a betrayal, but he worked hard up there.
Good mothers never stop mothering, never stop in helping their kids find their way in this world.
I thought my world, my heart, our futures were crushed by cruel, frightening words in September. I still shake to think about the lies that terrified us and I am angry at the faceless human who caused all this anguish.
Hope was not in the dingy hotel room where my son was staying. Hope was not in the dumpy minivan that safely transported us on yet another cross country trip.
Hope was not in the guest room where he put a few folders and the plastic bag of clothes.
I thought it was lost. Gone forever. But I saw someone last night and she found it for me- it was hiding in her office. I shared the whole miserable tale with her and instead of frowning, she was smiling. She kindly told me that what happened to our son- and us- was temporary, a stepping stone. His whole life was ahead of him. It’s not over. It’s just beginning.