Hold On for Your Life


from the prologue...

“This is the last time,” I said, buying him the pack of cigarettes. Now evening, he sat on my back porch glider smoking one, me, alongside in a patio chair. My words, upturned corners of mouths, laughed at me.

I was worn out. Parenting every way possible, I’d tried everything, anything. Nothing mattered, it seemed. Giving love–tough, gentle or otherwise–I was too tired to care. Choosing an outfit used to be fun, matching top to bottom, shoes, looking cute. Now, I pull a shirt off the hanger and put it on. Bingo. That’s what I wear. Makeup? I gave it up when he was in the hospital, black tears cascading daily. Face cream, no. Cooking, minimal.

Housekeeping? Was that ever an option?

The only thing left of me is running. Feet beat down on the pavement, picking up pace on the trail, I run to ebb the excruciation of soul. Rapid heart within, I create pain in my body to alleviate pain in my mind.

Sitting in the peace of still and his smoke, the trees and I soak in his annoyance. I am a fly on his wall. Headed to Hazelden/Betty Ford in the morning, Minnesota, they pick him up from the airport. I should be hopeful, but somewhere along the way I’d become a realist, my Pollyanna energy turned tired balloon with a needle, air sputtering out.


He flew in and landed on my fencepost.  My little apartment yard only 30’ X 20’, I couldn’t miss him. Staring at me, how birds do, eyes on the side of their heads, his presence making us a threesome. Red crest, black mask, universal to his breed, here to pay a visit.  I looked at Noah, then back at the regal creature, our eyes meeting.

Growing up in Minnesota, I’d see the first cardinal when the lawn still wore white. Bits of frozen grass peeked through snow, paralyzed. On a gloomy day, when least expected, cold, bitter and dire, he’d appear, the first sign of spring.

Oh bird of winter, you who never fly south for ease, but remain in your place of habitat for twelve months, enduring, thank you.

Am I a fool to hope?

Addiction entered our lives four years ago. No. Addiction entered our lives the day he was born.