Last weekend – if you’re Canadian – was Thanksgiving. We did all the usual things, making stupid amounts of food, eating stupid amounts of food, talking and laughing while eating the stupid amounts of food, and then digesting it for hours (days) afterwards. There was much talk and laughter during dinner. Both my daughters had their boyfriends over and also some extra friends. We had a wonderful time.
No one mentioned Graham.
Actually I suspect everyone was mildly grateful for the reprieve. To be honest the holiday was easier without him. There was no constant redirecting, or monitoring or having to keep track of the 6 foot toddler. It was easier in every possible way.
Except that it wasn’t.
Graham was on his own for Thanksgiving. He’s been on his own since he relapsed shortly after his sister came home from school for the weekend. He managed 8 days living with us before the expectations he had agreed to became too much. We actually had only about 2 good days with him before old habits started sneaking back.
He burned his bridges with the Marines and now has no life ‘plan’. He’s not in school, doesn’t work, and is homeless, not the sort of future you envision when raising your little boy. I look back over the last 18 years and wonder what I could have done differently, done better, not done, done more of, and my answer is it doesn’t matter. I did try everything thing I could think of to help him. He had mentors, role models, martial arts, fine arts, music, social workers, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, support groups, summer camps, youth groups, retreats, sweat lodges, and on and on. He had more support and resources in the last 6 years than most people get in their lifetime. Did it make any difference? Who knows? He’s still alive, and maybe some seeds were planted that may grow one day. Maybe, or maybe not. I suppose what is important is that we always tried, that we didn’t give up.
Except it feels like giving up right now.
Still, you have to do you best with what you are given. I have two daughters that deserve my love and support, and my time. I have had my own life on hold for more years than I care to admit, and it’s time to put some time and some love into myself, otherwise I will come out of this hollow with no idea who I was anymore. I deserve more than that. My daughters deserve more than that. My son needs to know what being a whole person looks like, what taking care of yourself and others looks like. One day hopefully he may even be able to take care of himself and have enough left to care for others. One day, maybe.
For now I concentrate on what and who is important. On the people I love and nurture and on those who have loved and nurtured me. I don’t have time for anything else. Living through difficult times provides a clarity that might not have been apparent otherwise. I have a limited amount of time and tolerance for bullshit or superficiality. I am begining to see my own worth and the value of real friends. The rest, is dross….
“What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage…”
– Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos