One Breath at a Time

He went to rehab this morning for the fourth time...or maybe it's the fifth. My memory doesn't serve me particularly well normally and this is something I'm keen to let fade. I've been running for two weeks, living out of a tightly packed bag, moving about the world in search of the path of joy. I touched back down just in time to say a sad, strained good bye.

The first time they go to rehab, you will be bursting at the seams with equal parts wild hope and anxiety. You will visit the first weekend they're allowed guests, attend the afternoon AA meeting with them and take a walk around the property, talking idly about nothing. You will be proud of them and afraid for them. When they leave early, disappear and relapse, it will feel like the entire world is collapsing on your chest. You were warned that this might happen but that did nothing to prepare you.

The second time they go to rehab, your optimism will become cautious and jadedness will creep in quietly. You will sing Amy Winehouse together on the way to drop them off and laugh a little too loud. You will only come to visit once. They might complete the whole program this time, but they make the classic mistake of returning to their previous environment and will relapse again. And again. And again.

You might recall what it felt like when they first told you they were doing heroin- the immediate wave of nausea, dizziness and blackening vision. They say it's casual, that of course they're in control, and you want to believe them even if you know better. It will be a secret that you alone keep and the weight of it will crush you. You buy a one way ticket as far away as you can get. You become the heaviest living being. You weep like a baby when Cory Monteith dies because it feels too familiar. You have long heart to hearts with them that spark what's left of your hope but ultimately disappoint. They have become a fluent liar.

By the time they go to rehab for the fourth (or fifth) time, your heart is weathered and hardened. There will be syringes all over their room and residue from cooking dope on their desk. You will begin to grimly consider that this disease may very well kill them as it has so many others. You are forced to surrender any remaining illusions that there's anything you can do but love them. You cannot control them anymore than you can the weather. You can only voice your concerns and feelings, and pray in a more focused and insistent way than ever before.

My God, please, let there be healing in their lifetime.
My God, please, help them find their way back.

Few moments have ever been as important as this one. The threads of future possibility rest in the shaky hands of someone you've come to mistrust and even fear. There is nothing you can do. This surrender feels like a tiny death everyday. Your dreams are haunted by darkened streets, handfuls of pills and a nagging, hopeless trepidation. You don't trust them to save themselves, you want for nothing more than to be able to do it for them, but you cannot. The most meaningful salvation is self-chosen. This is up to them. Once again, you give them your faith.

You keep breathing. You keep loving. That's all that's left.


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