So, my son had to come home for court. This was big. He hadn’t been home yet. The last time he saw our small airport, he was seeing through the eyes of an active addict/alcoholic. I was a little bit worried, but not much. After all, since leaving home for rehab in May of 2014, I knew he embraced sobriety and had a very full tool chest that held everything he needed to maintain sobriety.
As the time approached for my son to come home, I made arrangements to fly him and his support (sober companion) home for three nights. Knowing my son would have support was a great relief for me. With all the visits I had made to New Life, I knew the value of support.
My son and his support made their way off the plane and into our waiting semi-circle of family. My daughters could not wait to see their big brother arrive home for the first time. It makes me teary even now, a couple of weeks after the visit, just thinking about how bright and fresh my son looked. No circles, no paleness, no quiet pain that oozed forth…the man we saw had bright, clear blue eyes, clear skin, a beautiful smile, beautiful, positive energy, and a very neat haircut. His support was warm and engaging; he fit right into our noisy, happy group.
My son had amends he wanted to make, first thing, to his grandmother. I was touched that this was the first thing on his list. My, how things had changed! Sometime later, we were home and into our visiting. My son had gotten re-acquainted with his Beagle and had gotten a good, South Louisiana dinner of seafood gumbo. We had a welcome-home chocolate cake. That first day I noticed how grateful my son was. He genuinely thanked us all for everything. He didn’t ask for anything at all. He picked up after himself and did his own dishes!
The next day was our family day to do something. We went to Avery Island, which is about 20 minutes from home. This is where Tabasco Sauce is made. It’s a beautiful little island with loads of trees, waterways and wildlife. This place is significant to us. When my son was a high school senior, we took the day off and went to Avery Island – I realized that with the hustle and bustle of preparing for graduation and senior trip, time was moving way too fast for me and I wanted to stop it all and spend time with my son. Just be. We wouldn’t have many more chances to do just that, so we did. It was a beautiful day with just the two of us. In April of 2014, when my son came home from Winter Park, FL, for Spring Break, we took the day off again and spent it at Avery Island. My two daughters (James’ younger sisters) were able to come with us that day. It was glorious. My son was home to visit and we had the chance to be someplace so special to us all. After our day there, my son kissed us all good-bye and went to see his friends in town. Later that evening, I got a call. My son was arrested for drugs and was calling me from the back of a police car. Flashes of our day went through my head and I just couldn’t understand how the day turned that way. Flash forward to present day! Wow! 17 months of rehab and sober living later, we were creating new, sober, beautiful memories at this same place! It’s funny how life is.
So, court happened. My son was peaceful with just a tinge of understandable nervousness. His support was always right there with us and that was a nice layer of security. Court went very well for my son. We had a big family dinner that night with 13 of us happily crowded around a table in a local favorite restaurant. The next day it was back to California.
As I reflected on my son’s visit, I was struck by the fact that everything he had contact with was left in a better way than when he found it. His bed was very neatly made, clothes picked up and taken care of, electronics that didn’t seem to work before were working; even the seemingly impossible knot in the dog’s braided leather leash had been released after being stuck for over a year! He cleaned up dishes that had been left in the sink by someone else! And the biggest thing was, he didn’t ask for a single thing. He was truly grateful for everything. He hugged us and looked at us – us being his family – in our eyes. His body language said he was present and engaged. He was communicative and insightful. My son has grown up. He has embraced sobriety and understands his addiction.
I used to hear parents say they were grateful for what they had been through with their sons, meaning addiction and recovery. It was hard for me to understand that, but now I do. My son has created a far-reaching ripple effect within our family and I am forever grateful.
My son is responsible for his sobriety. New Life House gave him a place to work on himself and achieve sobriety, while providing a safe place that provided tough love, accountability, and expectations. I am happy to say that my son has just graduated the program this week. It is truly an honor and privilege to know the men, women and families behind New Life. They became the family my son and our family needed during the toughest time in our lives.