Eve Waits

I. Eve

Eve waits by the river, knowing her son will be there when the sun is high. She will call out to him. He will shake his head, or simply turn away. She wants him to look at her, eye to eye. If she had been there two minutes earlier, she could have stopped it. She had not imagined how deep the mischief could go. If she had been where she was supposed to be…

II. The Son

I called the police when I found the pot. Most of the paraphernalia was strange to me. A vase was not a vase, the police told me. It was a bong. The incense had been a cover for the scent I wouldn’t have recognized anyway. The little box was for measuring marijuana. Dealers used it.

Oh God, don’t let Daniel be a dealer. (But I can’t undo reality. I can’t go back in time and change the order of things.)

He knew I’d call the police if he ever returned to pot. He had fessed up, but had left himself space to go back:

Mom, the photo I attached is a picture of my pipe that I’ve used for almost four years and owned for almost two. So many lips have licked this pipe, so many hands have hidden it. I’ve smoked from this pipe in so many different places, with so many different people, at so many different times. This pipe goes all the way back to eighth grade when a friend of mine owned it, before I ever smoked pot. I first used this pipe around Christmas break my freshmen year of high school when I first started experimenting. This pipe has a lot of history and a lot of wasted time, but a lot memories of people who changed now or people I haven’t seen and probably won’t see in a long time. It’s going to be hard but I’m going to get rid of this pipe for good. It’s the only marijuana paraphernalia I own and hopefully the last, but I’d probably be lying If I told you I was never going to smoke again in my life. I am going to try to stop, and do something with my life. No one’s home right now and I was going to show you my pipe and take you with me to get rid of it, but instead I’ll go to the river where I’ll dispose of it and let the fishes have it. By the time you read this I probably will have already gotten rid of it. I know I’ve made some stupid choices. I’m sorry for what I’ve done and I want to change.

I wait with him in the courtroom. We watch as the jail transports, all in orange jumpsuits, hands manacled, walk into the room in an orderly line. Everything is in order, and everything has been disrupted. This is not where we should be. My son should be Mormon missionary—that was the plan. I should have been writing him letters. Not here, inches or words away from a trip to jail.

The judge enters and we rise. Eight inmates make their cases to him. Several are there on exactly the same charge as Daniel, though theirs is a second or third offense—or rather, they got caught again.

Daniel’s name is called. The judge reads the charges. “You were caught with marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Your mother called the police. You were in a drug-free zone, and are charged with two class-A misdemeanors. Is this correct?”

“Yes, your honor.” Daniel stands straight and leans certainly into the microphone. He is wearing the grey suit I bought him. I didn’t buy it for this day, but with the thought that if he could see himself in a good suit, maybe he could imagine himself as a missionary.

“Do you waive your right to representation?”

“No Sir. I want a lawyer.”

III

It was fire through her loins when he was born. Eve could not remember the pain, only her growl/scream—an animal sound. How removed was she from the bears or the tigers? If she could growl/scream with her whole body as they did, who was she?

She watches the river’s slow currents curl into foam, sees the shadows of fish just inches away from her wet feet. She gazes at a dragonfly, its body like twined threads, blue and black, its veined, transparent wings beating faster than time. There is no swish of sound, just a buzz as it darts to the river, then back to her, away, back. No way to predict where it will go next. No way to direct it.

IV

We are sitting on a cabin porch, Daniel and I, looking at the stars, trying to find September’s Perseid meteor shower, and guessing where “northeast” is from our perspective. That’s where we’ll see the shooting stars, my husband had told us. We have a second court date, but it’s weeks away. We are taking time to become friends again, mother and son, finding a world where neither has betrayed the other.

Daniel looks at one constellation, and I at another. I see a meteor rip through the sky. “I saw one,” I whisper. Dan looks, but the tail has faded. He sees the last wisp of another, which I miss. We sit, breathing in scents of pine and distant bonfires.

“Mom?” he says.

I wait. He is waiting for me, too. “Yes?” Did he simply need to know I was listening, that he had my attention?

“Did you hear those kids from jail laugh? When the judge said you had called the police on me, did you hear them laugh?”

“No. I wasn’t focused on them.”

“They probably had parents who wouldn’t do that. They probably had parents who didn’t care.”

“That would be sad.” I couldn’t think of other words.

We look to the heavens again.

“Mom,” he says, “there’s stuff I need to tell you.”

“Okay.” I knew it was coming, knew it would be bad. I’m not bracing for it. I’m calm.

“It wasn’t just pot.”

“Okay.”

“Remember the night I was sick and I threw up in the car? I was on morphine.” He spills it all—the night his stoner buddies fed him bread when they thought he was dying of alcohol poisoning; the many times he had snuck out of his bedroom window in the middle of the night and gone to his friends’ place, doing whatever drugs they had handy.

“Where did you get the money?” I ask.

“I pawned stuff.”

“Your guitar?”

“Yes.”

“That makes sense. I haven’t seen you play it in a long time.”

“Do you still love me?”

“You played so beautifully. Such a gift.”

“Do you?”

“Yes.”

“Really?”

“All of that is in your past. We’re moving to your future now.”

“That’s what I want,” he says.

I remember him plucking out “Stairway to Heaven.” He never learned the whole song. He was never good a finishing things. Attention Deficit Disorder.

“Mom,” he says, “I like it when you’re happy.” As though he has heard my thoughts.

“Me too,” I say, and watch the swath of stars just above the pines’ jagged tips. I am hoping for one more dash of light.

Comments

  1. As a sister watching helplessly as her sibling descends further into the pit of heroin, all I can say is that your story gives me hope that one day there will be a future to move into. I love the Eve analogy as well, especially the dual meaning of “when the sun is high”. The love of a mother knows no bounds. It’s story is timeless as you’ve so beautifully illustrated, weaving back and forth with Mother Eve and Daniel’s mother. Thank you!

  2. This is both terrifying and tender. Beautiful.

  3. KerBearRN says:

    Thank you for this.

  4. themormonbrit says:

    Wow. This is amazing. Thank you.

  5. Beautiful, and heartbreaking.

  6. Beautiful and heartbreaking, indeed. Good luck to you and your son…

  7. Guest, your son has been given a gift in a mother like you. This was beautiful.

  8. Ditto to everyone else.

  9. Exactly my experience with my son and 20 years later it still goes on and on.

  10. I’ve had some experience with similar things. Thankfully, I have seen recovery–for parents and for their children. I highly recommend the LDS 12-step program, which is just like the regular 12-step, but it names Christ specifically and focuses on the atonement. It’s a program I wish more bishops used–or were even aware of. I would favor Sunday school classes which taught it. I’m hoping “Guest” and her son don’t have to wait twenty years.

  11. Thank you for this.

    “May there be a road.”

  12. Oh, I neglected to say to Honey–I am so sorry you’ve gone through this. People say such stupid things when they learn of our struggles, and I didn’t mean to minimize yours by testifying of the 12-step. No one who hasn’t been through it understands what it’s like to have a loved one get into drugs. I’ve lost three cousins to drug-related causes, and have fought for my own children in any way I could. But the first answer is never, “Well, here’s how you solve that problem.” It’s a hug and an expression of compassion.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    If I were involved in Young Men’s or Young Women’s I would turn this into a lesson for the kids. Thanks for sharing so challenging a set of experiences.

  14. I see this mostly as a story about an adult dealing with a child who goes astray, not about the child themself. I would have difficult time adapting it into a lesson for my priest’s quorum, without taking a lot of artistic license. We have enough bad examples in our ward that I can draw from to remind the 16 year olds about the consequences of their actions.

    I am grateful for parents who in dealing with my younger brother’s substance abuse problems, recognised that the down side of putting him through the US legal system greatly outweighed any positive effect a “wake up call” would be by turning him into the police. They considered the option and rejected it. He’s in a better place than he was 20 years ago, and some of that is because they continued to give him love and support.

  15. My son is in a better place now, and I didn’t have to turn him in myself. But the legal system was the only thing that inspired change. I used his struggle as a example when I taught seminary, the kids knew him and could see the sad results. The struggle for him to recover goes on and on, he will never recover physically, or probably emotionally. But I know the atonement will eventually return him to himself. I’m thankful for that knowledge, it comforts me. For now I can only mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. I love him, he has taught me so much and I am hopeful for him in the long view.

  16. My brother is now seven years into meth. The end result has been complete financial ruin, brain damage, and HIV. Not to mention the torturous pain he and the entire family has been put through. Hopefully this post can be used to warn those tempted of the terrible road drugs can lead to. Thanks.

  17. My situation is similar to Rebecca’s (no. 16), except it has been longer than seven years. I feel deeply for families with a child or sibing in this mess. When I think of the Word of Wisdom, I think of it solely as a protection against evil and conspiring men — what a wonderful protection it is.

  18. Gorgeous and terrifying to a young mother. Thanks for sharing.

  19. #14 I agree. When I first started teaching a mutual age Sunday school class the bishop was very clear that within classes that I needed to stick to examples in the lesson manual, or inspiring stories that were personal. I was not to share personal stories of sins I might have committed, and that I was not to share any second or third hand accounts.

    That said, I personally found this very inspiring, and sent the link to this post to a number of friends and family members. Thank you for sharing so much of your self, and what you and your son learned by living a life of responsibility. I think too often parents are trying to protect their children from the consequences of their actions. Personally I think it is more loving to let them see and deal with those consequences, and to help them on their way back up, rather than supporting them as they continue down a bad road.

  20. read every word.

  21. Having been a hardcore stoner myself at one point, and knowing many other people who partook I don’t see marijuana as the big bad boogie man that others seem to equate it with. I could/would not ever call the police on my own child over it, nor would I ever have spoken to my parents again had they done so to me. I have seen horrors the likes of which still haunt my nightmares these many years later. The time I spent smoking pot was what I needed to get over the initial hump of readjusting as safely as possible back into “normal” society and then I was done with it. Had a “loved one” called the police on me it would have ruined my life and all for nothing.

    I don’t want to seem contrary, but I felt people should think about this story from the other side before clapping too hard. Take it or leave it as you will.

  22. Herb Stoner says:

    I agree with EOR. D.E.A. Judge Francis Young found,after reviewing all available scientific literature on marijuana, that “Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” The only truly dangerous aspect of marijuana is that you can wind up in a cage.

    Marijuana is non-toxic and non-addictive. Marijuana is much safer than the legal OTC medications, and even safer than the caffeinated beverages in the soda aisle of the grocery store. Would you call the cops on your kid for drinking a Mountain Dew?

  23. EOR, try reading the “story” looking for repetitions of order/disruption, love/betrayal, bonds that hold us captive, and bonds that set us free. Who is the Eve looking for? The son who murdered her other son–as a drug-addicted child seems to consume the person who was that child, or as a child with an eating disorder (ED) seems to become ED. This is not really a story about whether or not the cops should be called, but about the depth of the rivers we step into with one another as part of our mortal commitments and our immortal connections.
    Herb Stoner–thanks for your comment. Please comment again in about thirty years, after you’ve had a little bit more experience.

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