Remember that ditty from Winnie the Pooh? That’s how I felt this morning (though it didn’t put me in the mood for food.) I woke to an email from beloved agent Janna, a screen shot of the Publisher’s Weekly announcement for A Thousand Different Ways. Very, very nice way to be greeted into the day.
And then I got a phone call.
I need to backtrack a little…
While chatting with a friend on Wednesday night, I told her I was actually looking forward to summer this year. Really looking forward to it. It felt strange, because I hate summer. Though last summer was sad, being a whole year missing Chris, and also the first summer of Scott living across the country, there was a peace to it. Melancholy, but comforting. Then there was free float Wednesdays with friends; sitting by the pool or on the porch those balmy nights, playing a dice game with my Frankie D. Of course, there was Stranger Things. Pool days with my grandbabies, too. William and I fought the Demogorgon countless times with water noodles. I was sad to see summer go–another surprise, but not so much so as looking forward to this one. And that’s when I got punched in the face.
I didn’t hate summer. I hated what always happened in the summer. Years and years of it being constant crisis with Chris. We never knew if he was bi-polar, or if it was substance-induced, but whatever it was, Chris cycled, and summer was always when he was at his worst. It was neverending days of fear, anger, and abject desperation on all our parts. Summer would end, he’d pull out of his tailspin, and the cycle continued.
Even that last summer of his chemistry-dreaming when he and a friend were outside to all hours of the night, experimenting. Garbage pail science, I think it’s called. He had started using marijuana (medically advised) in place of the ridiculous amount of anti-anxiety drugs he’d been prescribed. But there was always an edge to Chris, like he was on that precipice, clinging to the scuttling rocks with his toes…and one set of toes didn’t even work. And we were ever on that precipice with him.
Anyway, that’s why I hated summer. And realizing that’s why I hated summer punched me in the face with the fact that I can love it now, because he’s gone.
Yes. That harsh. I just started crying all over again, because it hurts so much to know this. I can’t unknow it. I, who spend my life creating fiction, can’t pretend. I can love summer again, because my chaotic son is dead. If this were an old Batman episode, I’d have a big KABLAM spattering over my head.
That’s where I still was, though mellowed, when I woke this morning to the email from Janna. Everything happening with A Thousand Different Ways is the stuff writers dream of. Day after day brings something new, something exciting. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve been around the block before, but this is a new block. A whole new experience even if it feels familiar. “Roll with the punches,” was one of my mom’s favorite taglines when we were kids. And I always have. Better than most, I’d say. So I roll with the punches, the good ones and the bad, doing my best keep my balance.
Which brings me back to that phone call–from the parole office, concerning the young man who’s been in prison for selling my son the drugs that killed him. He was sentenced to four years. He’s been in for a bit more than a year and a half. I wrote to him a while back, because…for many reasons. That’s not what this is about. I needed to. We’ll leave that there. His response to me was not what I’d hoped for. He takes no responsibility. He blames others. Despite the evidence I saw with my own eyes, in my son’s cell phone when I cleaned it out, despite the fact that I was THERE that night when he delivered the drugs and called out, “Bye, Mom!” as he left, my son already on his way to oblivion up in his bedroom. I was still willing to forgive him, even hope that he would learn enough from this to become a better person.
That’s not going to happen. I accept that this positive I’d hoped to pull out of so horrendous a negative isn’t going to happen. That comes with its own set of sorrows, but again not what this is about. The parole office wants to know if I want to attend the hearing, if I have a statement to make, or if I’d like to learn the outcome.
For those of you who really know me, you understand how much it costs me to say–I don’t care. I don’t care what happens to this person. I don’t want to know. I want no ill to befall him, but I don’t want ANYTHING at all for him either. If he can’t accept the role he played in my son’s death, his friend, then I haven’t any fucks left to give him.
Up, down, touch the ground.
We will be in Europe during the hearing. I have no statement to make but this–I don’t want to see him. Ever. I don’t want him showing up at my house as if I believed his vows of innocence. Because he would, and he needs to know that he can’t.
Now I go make that phone call. Then I write. Next week, I’m off to Europe with my parents, my brothers and their spouses, and my beloved Frankie D. When I get home, edits for A Thousand Different Ways begin. Up, up, up. In between, there will be downs, but they’re not going to hold me there. No fucking way.