The phone rang last Friday. Actually it chirped. Like a cricket. I guess phones really don’t ring anymore, do they?
But I digress.
It looked like a local call but I didn’t recognize the number. I was relieved when I heard Mac’s voice. He hadn’t been at Daybreak when I was there for Sister Circle the previous Tuesday, and I hadn’t heard from him since the week before. I had been worried.
“Hey, where are you? This is a new number. You borrowing someone’s phone?” I asked.
“Naw. I’m at the hospital.”
Oh NO. What had happened this time? He’d been having some bad falls due to his balance not being good, even stone cold sober.
“You are.” I paused. “Ummm, that’s good. Really good. What brought this on?” Last I knew he was thinking about it, but he didn’t seem in a big hurry to make it happen.
“It started sprinkling.”
I laughed. “What?”
“Well see, me and J and some of them were all hanging out in the parking lot at the convenience store, and everybody got ready to head out. It started sprinkling, and I just decided I was tired of this, I couldn’t live like that no more, so I called an ambulance.”
Ah. Sprinkling. *shrugging* Whatever it takes.
He was in good spirits. He was dreaming again. About where to go after detoxing. About what he could do with his life. He wants to work, he wants to get a job–a real job. One that he CAN do, despite his balance issues.
My heart soared. As he talked, I bowed my head and said a silent word of “thanks.” And I was grinning really big.
Over the weekend we talked a couple of times. He was in the zone. He was attending meetings and eating good cooked food and sleeping in air conditioning and on a real mattress. For the first time in ten months. All because of his choices.
On Monday, while I was in the middle of dealing with Mr. A.A. Law, Mac called me again.
“Hey. Guess what? I called Mr. J and asked him for the numbers for that place he said might could take me for rehab, and he told me to wait a minute. Then he came back on the line and asked me if I could get up there. They’re going to let me come back!”
I said the first thing that came to my mind. “I’m gonna kiss Mr. J when I see him! Whoo hoo!!!!!”
Mac was going back “home.” The place three hours to the northeast, where he lived for about a year–minus the two weeks he spent in town here because he took a drink and then many more on his visit back home for Thanksgiving. When he went back for a second chance and then did not return, after a visit back to town last July, he was told that was it. And fair enough, right? There are consequences to one’s actions. And that was it.
The beautiful thing about this change of heart by Mr. J is that it’s because of one thing.
Mac has called Mr. J off and on over the last few months when he’s been at Daybreak, the day shelter in town. From what Mac has shared, I gather they’ve visited, caught up on folks who were there when Mac was and those who still are. I believe that those conversations, the thoughts and struggles shared through the phone line–that’s why Mr. J is willing to take a chance with Mac again. He’s heard what I’ve heard. That, for now, in this moment, Mac is ready.
I don’t kid myself, y’all. I’ve done it before. Been all happy, happy, happy–saying Oh THIS is the time. THIS time he is going to make it.
Now I dream and hope smaller. Today this is it. In this moment he’s making good choices. One moment at a time–that’s the true journey for an addict–no, wait–for all of us, isn’t it?
I spent a lot of Wednesday and much of yesterday trying to find a kind soul to drive Mac up to his new/old home today–his discharge date. I found myself getting frustrated.
Frustrated that I couldn’t do it without getting out of prior obligations.
Mad that no one seemed to be able to make the trip. Whether lack of dependable transportation, scheduling conflicts, or whatever–no one was able to do it.
I was feeling lost and very sad, and a little like no one could sense what a special person he is and that taking him and getting to know him on this trip would be more rewarding than anything else.
And then as messages from friends I’d asked for help from came pouring in, I saw the opportunity–the possibility for really good things that was coming from this–from me not finding someone right away.
Friends were regretful that they couldn’t do it, but they would be praying. Friends wanting to support him however they could. Folks who wanted to write him, send him encouragement. People who have never met this man, reaching out, lifting him up, taking his journey and making it important in their hearts and thoughts. Folks were looking to give comfort and refuge any way they could–folks were “being the feathers” for Mac, and it made me cry.
Tonight I’m thankful for the young man who did step up and agree to drive a complete stranger in his vehicle for over three hours. He was the epitome of Kindness and Compassion. You might know this young man–look up those words in the dictionary–I’ll bet his picture is there beside both of them. He smiled and looked down at his shoes when I asked him to let me know when he’d made it home safely. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had to do that with anyone,” he said. “I’m a Mama, indulge me, please,” I smiled back. And so he did. Journey there and back–safe and sound. Thankful for that. And so much more.
I give thanks for the change in how I saw things–that moment when I shifted from being frustrated to amazed–realizing that even though this friend or that friend couldn’t drive Mac, they were lifting him up–that was a freeing moment. It gave me pause, and I was quiet and felt the hush of my anxious spirit almost immediately as the realization hit. People care. They really do. And then they do what they can with that caring spirit.
If you have a moment tonight, as you lay your head on your own pillow or tomorrow as you sit in a familiar place and find comfort in your routine or enjoy your freedom not to have a schedule, please think about Mac. Cross your fingers, say a prayer, lift him up–any and all appreciated. Even though he’s going back “home,” Mac knows things will be different than they were before he left. He told me yesterday he didn’t sleep at all Wednesday night for thinking about this next big step. He also knows something else–
he’s not coming back to town. This town that he has called home most of his life–he realizes he can’t come back, for that is where temptation to take a drink with old buddies is the strongest. He’s sad about that–he loves his Mama and will miss her. She loves him too, and she says she will visit him when she can. Fingers crossed for that too.
As you think about Mac tonight, tomorrow, next week, please let’s also think about relationships. I love my brother. I will write and be here to talk when he calls. But it’s not the same as seeing him each week. Being a friendly face for each other in the midst of all the other faces that might not be quite as friendly. I am hopeful that someone in town there will feel moved to reach out. He needs a friend, one who understands, is supportive, and loves him outside of the programs and the steps and just loves him as is. Someone who will visit him and take him out once or twice a month. Someone he can trust and call friend there, in his new town. He needs to be known. I think that will be a huge part in how this goes this time around.
But I’m trying not to let worry take over. As I learned yesterday, if I do what I can do, and then sit back and wait, good can come. There was a young man here who put Other ahead of himself and did a great thing today; I am sure there is a feather there who will land with his arms around my brother right where he is now. We just have to wait.
Tonight I leave you with the words of Mac, whom I am so proud of right now:
“If ain’t nobody told you they love you today, well, I do.”
Love to all. #beafeather