Each day, the litany of voices and self-recriminations and guilty what-ifs.
You see the poster that was hanging in the bedroom walking down an arroyo with a hamper that once held his clothes.
You see the shirt, not yet worn, walking by on a body that isn’t who it was given.
You see boxes, and pieces, and bits.
But you don’t see him.
You see other people’s children, and you know others walk the world that you now inhabit, the world of not knowing where the piece of your heart that left with him has gone.
You know that you can keep going, keep trying, keep healing. But the person that will be put back together is not the same. How can you be the same when you reach that moment and know there is nothing you can do to save the person you would give anything to help?
Each day, the litany of voices and self-incriminations and guilty what-ifs.
It is cold outside; I hope he is warm enough.
It is hot outside; I hope he is staying hydrated.
There was a story in the news last night of a young body found on the other end of town, addicted until they were raped, beaten discarded. No identification. Is it him?
“Yum, this was a great meal.” (With the smile that masks the tears held back to not break the mood, “I wonder if he has eaten today.”)
His room is haunted, even though I gave him all his stuff as he asked.
His dog missed him. She sits in the space where she can smell him and each walk, she pulls toward the direction she knows he went.
The experts say it is not your fault. The world says something different, even those who should have become a support network when your world was falling apart and you needed a net, or at least a friendly voice.
You hear the voices and see the looks of those who think it IS your fault, that you must have caused this, that you must be Papa John feeding his daughter drugs. You feel the judgement of former (supposed) friends and even family, and you want to scream – “I was once you! I bragged that it was not my family, not my child.” But in truth, you would never wish this pain, this loss, this ever present anxiety of when the call will come that he is dead, that he is in jail, that he wants to come home but does not want to change.
Every day, you get up and you hide the grief at the loss of a child who lives, a child who is lost and alone.
A child who is one of those people panhandling on the median at the corner of SF and Zia.
How do you let go, you wonder?
How long can you hang on, you wonder?
How can you make this sliver of your heart that travels with him feel how wanted, needed, loved he is until he can reach that place where healing feels better than another puff of fentanyl.
And you wonder, all this drama in your government.
Manufactured outrage at a million things and a bunch of supposed leaders who seem elected only to serve their own self-interest in power and wealth, and you wonder why no one sees you?
Why no one sees your child?
Why no one sees all these children?