Update and More Advice Please

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Albatross, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Like other dcs on this board, my son is in a marijuana-legal state. He was working day labor and camping in the woods but fortunately found a job of sorts, working on a weed farm outside of town, in exchange for room and board and free samples of the crop. Pretty much a “dream job” for a Difficult Child. It worked out well too in that he had no access to transportation and no money, making it very difficult for him to drink.

    The week before last we were chatting and he was being belligerent, so I cut the conversation short.

    Last week he called from a Crisis Stabilization Unit. He changed details of his story many times, but the basics are that once a week he has been getting rides into town, working day labor, buying “a few beers,” and hiking to a campsite to spend the night, then back to the farm.

    He claims that this time he hurt his knee and it gave out, forcing him to crawl and limp back from his campsite to town. He Baker Acted himself because he had nowhere to go.

    His blood alcohol level was high enough to be admitted to detox, so I think it is more likely he intended to drink to the point of passing out (which is the only way he drinks), then realized he was in trouble because it was 11 degrees and he had no coat, only a hoodie. That is probably why he was taken to the CSU.

    Before now he had seen snow only once in his life, so he doesn’t have much respect for cold climates.

    I can’t get this out of my head, that he COULD have drunk enough to pass out, that he probably even intended to do so. Had he succeeded, this would have ended very differently.

    Last night he called, saying he hates the cold, hates his boss, hates not having any money…hates being in the same spot for more than a few weeks. He is going to quit his job, go back to his campsite “with lots of layers of clothing” and work day labor to try to get airfare together to head to a warmer climate, where he claims he has a roommate and a job lined up (also questionable). He won’t be dissuaded from his plan, though he did at least agree to reserve a bed at a hostel. Of course he can't drink at the hostel, so I don't know how long that will last...

    What is the right thing to do here? Do we help him get to a warmer climate so I at least know he won't freeze to death when he passes out?

    Or do we let him figure it out, even in the face of his terrible judgment and lack of appreciation for winter and determination to drink no matter what the consequences?

    I know what I would probably tell any other mom who asked me what to do…but I can’t wrap my head or heart around the fact that he willingly walked miles out of town in winter with no coat, just so he could get drunk.

    I have even contemplated whether this constitutes enough of “being a danger to self” to somehow force him into longer treatment than a few days in a crisis unit.

    What are your thoughts?
  2. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    I am here and thinking about this. Sure hope somebody wiser chimes in ...soon.

    Like you, I think I know my advice for another mom....maybe. This one is tough. Do you know if the folks at the campsite look out for each other? Is there a place you can call and get more info about his situation at the campsite?

    I feel certain good advice is coming. I will be watching for it, as well.

    Guessing shelters are out of the question? I Googled Baker Acted because i had no idea. Good for him for doing that. It does sound like he has the will to live. I totally understand your fear.
  3. Concerned Mom & Dad

    Concerned Mom & Dad New Member


    My Difficult Child is only 18 and so I'm a little new to this journey. I wish I had wise advice for you. My heart goes out to you. I can imagine myself making similar choices in the future. My perspective, for what it's worth, is what about doing this for your own sake? If it would ease your mind to have him in a warmer climate and you can afford to help him, would it be worth it for your own piece of mind?
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  4. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Alby, I know that horrible feeling of worrying whether they will freeze to death. I do know that somehow they always manage.
    In order for your son to fly he has to have a state issued ID. If he's like my son, it's been lost. A cheaper alternative would be a bus ticket.
    Here's the thing, if you do extend the offer to help him get to a warmer climate be sure to keep your boundaries in check.
    I just sent some money to my son as a Christmas gift. I have not given him any money for several years but wanted to this year. I did this with my eyes wide open. I know that this can be an opening for him to ask for money in the future and I have to be prepared to tell him no.
    You could tell your son you are giving him a bus or air ticket as a Christmas gift.
    As you know, you have to do what you can live with.
    ((HUGS)) to you...............
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I volunteered in a homeless shelter in the Chicago area in winter. We had tons of free coats, hats, boots etc for anyone to take. Just a heads up.
  6. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    I live in a cold climate, a lot of local schools have coat drives. We get hundreds of coats, he can call a school, maybe they can help. Also, public schools have knowledge of resources, food, shelter, clothing. He can call any school and ask for the guidance counselor. They will give him advice.
  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    These are the questions that create the struggles for us. I'm so sorry Albatross, being stuck not knowing which way to turn is a nightmare.

    Albatross, I read your post a couple of times.....thinking perhaps something would pop up as the appropriate response.... but what I am left with is that there is no "right" thing to do. That is the truth of all of this for us, there is no handbook that says when your adult difficult child does this.....this is what you do. We're all winging it. If it were me I would ask myself what I can live with in this situation.

    In my case, even though I am essentially detached from my daughter, life just isn't so black and white that I never consider stepping out of that detachment mode to assist her if the situation feels different to me. It's not a linear experience, at least for me, I have to look at each incident and make a determination as to what my response is going to be. In the spring my daughter stayed with us for a week, something I would definitely not have done before, but the situation was unusual and I made decision that she would be safest with me given all of the parameters. After a week, I left town and dropped her off at her old place........another choice I found hard to do, but it also felt appropriate. That's how it works for me, I have to think through each situation and make a choice, it just isn't always only one way. That makes it more difficult too.

    None of us are in your shoes.......if you feel strongly that in this particular situation, you want to step in and buy him a bus or airline ticket, then do it.

    Tanya's suggestion of keeping your boundaries intact but perhaps offering to give him the ticket out for Christmas sounded reasonable to me. And, at the same time, letting him figure it out has merit too.

    It's a tough call. It's YOUR call. Do what you can live with.
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  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry this is happening, Albatross. I would look into forcing treatment, but only in a facility I had researched and that has an excellent aftercare program and that I believed in.

    Working day labor sounds like a good plan.

    Albatross, do you know what your son would need to be saying and doing before you could help with a full heart? Recovering Enabler posted to me once that we know we are enabling when we resent the help we give. It was very hard for us, but using Recovering's words as our standard for recognizing when we were enabling, we resolved to stop enabling. Holding a picture of what we needed to see or hear from our son before we would help helped us survive not helping ~ but it was still very hard. When we did talk to our son, that picture we held in our heads of what we would need to see from our son before we would help helped us know how to frame the conversation from our end. If your son is framing the conversation, you will hear that he is cold and hungry and hurt, and you will feel somehow responsible for those things. As I see it, the issue isn't that your son has no choice. What this is about is that of all the myriad choices he has, your son chooses this lifestyle. It may be that the challenges he faces now will make him determined to take his life in a different direction. With Recovering's admonition regarding enabling firmly in mind, that is how I would reframe the conversation with my son. It helped me to remember there are nineteen year old soldiers in the world very far from home who are also cold, but who are not calling home and breaking their mothers' hearts. It helped me so much to remember that. I cut a picture of soldiers out of the newspaper and taped it near the phone. (This was before cellphones.) :smile: Regarding the question of a bus ticket...would you resent sending the ticket? Then, don't send it. Give only what you can give from a full heart. The ugliness of enabling is that it turns those we believe we are helping into beggars who know that if the story gets bad enough, we will help. And the story always got bad enough and then, it got worse. I learned to say: "I'm sorry this is happening. I wouldn't even know where to begin. What are you going to do?" Or, "You are strong and bright and this is what you wanted and I know you will be fine." I learned to always say "I love you." Whether he sneered or hung up or whatever else he did, I said those words right out loud because that is what is true: I do love him. And that is the only thing I know, for sure. It helped me to do something good for someone else's child in my child's name. Everything about this is so hard, Albatross. You are stronger than you know. I was stronger than I knew, too. There was no magic bullet, but we are coming through it. Carefully and conscientiously tend to your own and D H emotional health. It's like what they say about plane crashes. Put on your own oxygen mask first. Then, when he is ready, you will be able to help in a meaningful way.

    I say, yes. Until he is ready, there is so little you can do. Has he applied for Social Services? Is there a homeless shelter where he is? Direct him to those resources. To Salvation Army for a bus ticket. The thing is that someone in any one of those organizations ~ someone who is not his parent ~ may be able to help him set his feet on a different path. That is the true benefit of sending our wayward kids to helping agencies. The kids have to look at where they've taken their lives. When they are talking to us, the kids are blaming us for where they've taken their lives.

    Warm hugs for you and your D H, Albatross.

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  9. RiverFox

    RiverFox New Member

    First of All, I want to say I am sorry for what you are dealing with...
    There may be more info as to, his age, how many times this sort of thing has happened etc. I think at some point, even a parent becomes powerless to effect change.
    If you haven't tried this, I would suggest you offer him "safe harbor" with Hard, Fast conditions. Send him just enough money to get out of the cold and check himself into a rehab center. Additional funds will follow only if he makes progress getting clean and staying employed.
  10. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    The holiday season can undo us. They know this. Many gentle hugs for your hurting heart.
  11. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much for your thoughts, wise ones.

    SS, I only know what he told me, which is that he found a spot in the woods where he camps alone. He can't/won't stay in shelters because he says there is a lot of theft. He also gets kicked out for drinking.

    SWOT and 1905, I am sure he knows where to get a coat and might even have one, but he didn't have one that night. He has such terrible judgment most of the time, but especially after he has been drinking.

    Riverfox, this has happened many times before. He has gotten a great deal of support from multiple stays in rehabs, halfway houses, etc., but he treats them as "3 hots and a cot" and walks away as soon as he is back on his feet. He was plugged into tremendous support at one of the shelters where he is now but walked away from it.

    Cedar, it is so nice to "see" you. Thank you for your thoughts.

    In my paragraph above, I started to go on a bit of a tirade about the litany of support he has gotten, then stopped because it was just churning up resentment.

    I will likely resent whatever help I give him right now, Cedar. I do not see any of the things I would need to see to feel he is making progress.

    But I am just so worried.

    Yes, this is the crux of it. I always lose sight of that when he needs help. I get caught up in the maelstrom of what is best for him, which of course has no answer because I can't control that outcome.

    Yes, it would ease my mind to know he is warm.

    Amen, Pasa. But the holidays do at least provide a buffer when we step in. I like the idea of framing this as a gift.

    I have decided to HELP him get a ticket as his Christmas gift. I told him I will pay half, once he proves he has worked and earned the other half.

    That way he has a horse in the race too, and the control will be back in his hands instead of mine.

    He can either get to a warmer climate or get drunk, but he knows that if he makes the first choice I will help him.

    I am hoping he will make the first choice. I told him I know he can do it.

    In the meantime I will once again make sure he knows about resources for shelter, food, etc.

    Thank you again for grounding me and helping me see this more clearly.
  12. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Albie, this is so wise and reasonable. I hope you are finding some solace. It is hard knowing our beloveds are out there struggling with their challenges and the elements. Yes, I do believe they understand the powerful emotions holidays bring. It is a tough time for all of us. Hang in there dear!
    (((Big hugs)))
  13. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Allie I'm sorry you are going good thru this. You know my son is in Colorado and his drug of choice is pot, so I guess he's happy. He's currently crashing with some college girls in her dorm...I guess he's 21 and looks like he belongs on campus. I pointed out winter break is coming up and he better prepare. He hadn't considered that. These Difficult Child ren don't think ahead. I'm expecting the calls to start when he's out in the cold and I don't know what I'll say. I think you've made good choices in this matter. Now he just needs to make his.
  14. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    For D H and me, Alby, the question having to do with what we would need to see from our son before we would help was asked for our sakes. Not our son's sake. A child (of whatever age) vulnerable and on the streets is a living, breathing, ever-changing nightmare. There is no end to it. There is no answer. There is no comfort. It isn't only the horror of what is happening, it is the grief and loss and the sense of impending loss, in everything that is not happening. You did not do this, Albatross. You did not cause or create this. Someone you love more than your own life chose a dangerous path and you are his mother and there is no way to survive the nights for us. But...here we are. That is why D H and I were able to find comfort in asking that question, Alby. To give ourselves a place to stand so we could survive what was happening. People can suggest we detach...I could not. Worry and horror were destroying me. With the understanding that unless I saw certain things from my son, whatever help I did offer was not helping, but enabling an addiction to bite deeper, I was able to find the slimmest of footholds. And so, I was able to function, and to maintain a semblence of sanity. I like your thinking about giving your son the money once he has raised the first half. That is really good thinking, Alby.
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Albatross. I am sorry for the pain of this--the churning self-doubt, fear and confusion.
    But he saw to it that he found help. Baker acting himself--that phrase is not used in my State--but my son has done this several times. Gotten himself out of a situation where he felt vulnerable or unsafe by going to the emergency ward of a hospital, and getting admitted for psychiatric reasons, as being unsafe, psychologically.

    I do not support this, crisis management scheme of my son. To force my insurance or Medicaid to pay $6000 instead of planning ahead, or taking responsibility. Or G-d forbid, changing.

    But the thing is, your son saved himself. He may have exercised the bad, bad judgment that got him into the situation, but he got himself out.
    I am always making goals for my son. Writing down objectives. Conditions. Requirements. The major source of conflict between us, the 3 of us, is dissonance between what we want and what my son wants. Guess who wins?

    And I never, ever learn.

    Now the interesting thing is that I feel that it is my son who never learns. But really, it is me. As long as I hold onto a dichotomous view of life--my son's life--in my insistence that he live by my terms, I lose every single time. And I am held hostage, too. To him.

    I do not feel resentment. I feel anger. Frustration. Helplessness. Sadness. Him? Probably the same things with ME.

    What I am learning is that this is not a dichotomous, zero sum game world, in which we are living with my child--or yours. Ceding. Living from my love. Telling my son why I suffer and go nuts: You are the love of my life. Do you understand why I suffer and worry you are cold? Because I am there with you.

    I tell him the truth, of who I am and what I am. I give up my anger, and learn to let it go. Hard. Hard. Hard. But surprisingly easy, if I practice it.

    December 1, M and I have decided to enforce a drug test. I am beside myself that this will force my to take the action of ejecting him from a property I own. Because we have said over and over again: If you use marijuana or any other drug, you will have to leave. We have no other option. We have cornered ourselves. We see no other way.

    But the thing is he is smoking way, way less. He is less and less oriented towards street influence, and more towards us. Really, I do not know what I will do. And honestly, I do not know what M will do. We are adamant. But then we are not. There are no rules here. As everybody else says.

    I see your son as having acted constructively and destructively. He is trying to help himself, according to what he knows and who he is now.

    Does that give us a guidebook to decide what to do? No. But it gives us a place to stand in ourselves.

    Albatross, beneath your resentment, right, right underneath is fear and love and hope. The resentment is a cover story, because the fear is so great. That is what I think. You can scratch away the resentment, so easily. Just like the scratch stuff on a Lotto Ticket. The analogy fits for me. When I can scratch away the anger, I find my great love. And from that I know what to do.
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  16. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    I too have often feared that my son would freeze to death with the toxic combination of substance abuse and cold. It is an unshakeable and honestly not totally unreasonable fear. I think you are hitting the right path.

    My biggest fear was that my son would die thinking I didn't love him or care about him. With that in mind I tried to reinforce to him that I cared whenever I could (sometimes I was too mad at him to make that choice). I let go of the idea that he might make choices that would end in his death, because I knew that nothing I could do could prevent that from happening. I did ask him pretty regularly to be sure that he had my phone number on him somewhere, so that if he did die some one would call me (also there is that time when my street-tough boyfriend threatened to tattoo his own phone number on Difficult Child so that the coroner would call him him and I wouldn't hear it from a stranger...a weirdly fond memory).

    My other fear is that if he died or permanently disappeared I would drown in regrets. I work hard to be sure I can prevent that. On the surface it would surely seem that the path of enabling is the surest way to have no regrets should the worst happen, but I am a True Believer that our enabling is part of their illness, so I've let go of that too.

    In your situation I would need to be sure I wasn't being suckered (because that idea would make me angry and sleepless and set me back on my journey to health). I would want to do what I could to feel like I didn't stand by and let him freeze to death. And I would need to let go of the outcome once I made my choices. I feel you are right on target for all these goals (which are my goals, after all, and not yours).

    Good luck to you in this Alb. I suspect he will not provide his half of the ticket, but maybe he will. We never really know what will happen next, do we.

  17. Weary Mother

    Weary Mother WEARY MOTHER

    After reading this post and the responses, I believe I was intended to see this. My son who is now in prison and not freezing or starving, had been living as Albatross described, only my son was living in a shed, heated by a keresun heater, which when druggies pass out can be dangerous. When he ran out of fuel, there was no heat. He would call either me or his dad and tell us that the people he had been with were going to kill him or that they had kicked him and he was freezing and one of us would go the hour and a half and pick him up only to have him land right back there with in a week. We live near Chicago so it is very cold and windy in the winter and at times the temp was -20. We tried talking him into giving himself up (he had a warrant out for his arrest and he was hiding). No amount of talking would sway him and we who love him worried that he would freeze to death or be killed or die of an overdose (meth). I asked myself many times what to do and spent many days and nights crying, but in the end could not tolerate all of what was said here, fear of lifelong guilt if he died, worry that he would die and then just plain old frustration. So I went and so did his dad, and back and forth this went until something happened in the spring and he came to the town we live in and eventually he was arrested. I look back at those times and even now cry thinking of how hard that was on everyone and even on him. In the end he was tired of it too, but i guess addiction is so strong that he could never just go to the police station and give it up. He is now in a drug rehab ordered by the court, he is 48 and will be there a couple of years I think. I visited him Sunday and even though he looks, sounds and smells better I can still see the immaturity and willingness to break rules. For instance, the building he is in has 3 doors, each leading to a different dorm. The penalty for being found in a different dorm than you are assigned to is expulsion from the drug program. Well, he of course was up on a dorm he did not belong to and was heading back to his dorm, when a friend wanted to walk with him. He stopped to talk to someone, leaving the other person to go back alone. When he got down stairs, he found that his companion had been caught and was waiting to be removed, that fast!! So now he says since he sees how serious that is he won't do it again, and that everyone had been doing it and so he felt it was not a big deal. None of this is easy and as some here have pointed out, there are no sure answers. I am new here or kind of new and still trying to learn myself but really related to the post here, so again I am so happy and grateful to have found all of you on this forum, I still have a long way to go and appreciate being able to relate here.
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  18. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Oh lordy, this is me.

    I am the little girl who rides the roller coaster that terrifies her and makes her throw up, then steps right back in line to ride it again.

    But I'm trying.

    This week has been a crazy one.

    Saturday --
    Difficult Child: Mom, I'm leaving the weed farm. I need to make some money so I can pay my share of the ticket.
    Me: OK, but don't leave until you know you have work lined up and your leg is better. Do you have a place to stay?
    Difficult Child: Yes, my leg doesn't even hurt anymore and I got a spot at the winter shelter.

    Difficult Child: Mom, my leg hurts too much to work. Can you get the ticket and I'll pay you back?
    Me: No, we can only pay half. Maybe see the doctor?

    Difficult Child: Mom, I'm just going to work on my hurt leg, but day labor has no work. Can you get the ticket and I'll pay you back?
    Me: No, we can only pay half. Maybe get there earlier tomorrow?

    Later Tuesday--
    Difficult Child: Mom, it is -3 degrees with the wind chill and that is nothing to mess with. Can you get the ticket and I'll pay you back?
    Me: No, we can only pay half. Did you get the list of places that provide coats I sent you last week? You have the hat and gloves I sent, right?

    Difficult Child: Mom, if I don't get the ticket today the price is going to go up $50 or more. Can you get the ticket and I'll pay you back?
    Me: No, we can only pay half. I just looked and you can still leave on XX/XX and get the same deal.

    Later Wednesday--
    Difficult Child: Mom, I will be living in a sober living house when I get there and he can only hold my spot until XX/XX. Can you get the ticket and I'll pay you back?
    Me: No, we can only pay half. Maybe see if he can work something out for you?

    Later still Wednesday:
    Difficult Child: Mom, I went to the doctor and got bad news on my blood work but I don't want to talk about it. I'm sorry I asked you for help. I'm just going to go live in the woods.
    Me: Send me a copy of your labs? Why are you going to live in the woods instead of the winter shelter?

    Difficult Child: Mom, got a great job at day labor.
    Me: Great to hear!

    Difficult Child: Mom, it's so beautiful here. I think I am going to stick it out.
    Me: OK, good luck!

    Yes, I would say these are my goals too, and not easy to balance the sucker part vs. the boundaries part sometimes.

    Reading over my conversation with him, even though I can see the efforts to manipulate, I feel so heartless. Sometimes I am very sad that I feel I must be this kind of mother.

    Nailed it!

    Jodie, I am sorry you and your son's dad had to go through that. I am so glad your son is safe for now and that you found us. Keep on posting. It helps.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Alone, you were terrific.
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  20. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Albatross. If you were on TV like Tony Robbins or that other guy, I would never miss a show. On your part, this was perfection. Like a Russian Gymnast on the balance beam. And then we learned she was on performance drugs.

    We release that her adrenaline, her precisions, her self-control were powered from something outside of, apart from her essential strength, dedication and will, which already considerable are really inadequate to deal with what she asks of her body or mind.

    And so it is with you, Albatross. You summon up a capacity to do the right thing for your child...which is not you. You have already learned that the essence of Albatross is to love and take responsibility for your child. This baseline essence never, ever leaves you, but you act in such a way that your child mature and thrive, in the way that you know he can. You do this because you have faith. Oh, Albatross, I admire you for your strength. True strength. And your faith.

    There is a concept in psychology called ambivalence, that is used very similarly to it's conventional meaning. Ambi or two ways to feel, to see the same event or person. Our situations are fraught with ambivalence. We love them. Our impulse is to protect them. We want to show them. We want to bring them close.

    But then there is their situations. Their entrenched patterns of behavior, to take into account. This dichotomy (two sets of facts or beliefs, that dreaded split, rears its head, again) and RE in her wisdom, tells us how to proceed, with self-love not self-condemnation:
    You see, I think I attack myself when I see myself being inconsistent. Here is an example of such:
    But the reality is I may be practicing discernment, of which I just got the definition on Wikipedia.

    Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions or to judge well (or the activity of so doing). In the case of judgment, discernment can be psychological or moral in nature. Within judgment, discernment involves going past the mere perception of something and making nuanced judgments about its properties or qualities. Considered as a virtue, a discerning individual is considered to possess wisdom, and be of good judgement; especially so with regard to subject matter often overlooked by others.

    So there it is Albatross. This is a definition of YOU, Albatross. While it may feel to you like a rote and heartless script, (it is not.) Actually, as I am thinking about it, your response is actually prayer, as I understand prayer. You are accepting your powerlessness in a situation in which you care deeply, compellingly about the condition and indeed soul and life of a beloved. And when he calls to ask for this or that. For you to set yourself up as a false G-d in his life, you resist. And your response is to pray. To pray he accepts responsibility in his own life. To pray that he finds the way to be protected.

    You are deeply tired, as we are, of finding ourselves walking in wildernesses with our young men, thus comes our frustration, anger and self-reproach. We pray to return. We pray that our sons return.

    There is another way to look at our journeys. As the opportunity to practice faith. (Now, until my mother was dying, I considered myself to be an agnostic, maybe even atheist at some points of my life.) But all of this I have gone through has made me see that for myself, there is another way to be.
    I will never, ever know what will happen, next. How I will reconcile the wanting I have that my son be safe and healthy and live, with the need to renounce the sense that I can control this anymore. Partly this is because I recognize that there are other things I want for my son, too. I know longer want that he be a child, a dependent. I want him to be a man. And a man has the legal and absolute right to decide for himself in most all circumstances. Up to and including to die.

    So we discern, like RE. And we pray, like Albatross (who has demonstrated the enormously empowered capacity on the balance beam. Maybe her powers have come not from banned substances, but from faith and love.