Last month my husband, daughter and I loaded our three dogs and a few months’ necessities into two cars. We left Colorado behind with a ‘for sale’ sign on our lawn and headed to St. Petersburg, Florida with no clue where we would be living. We had rented an Airbnb little cottage in Gulfport for the rest of the summer and hoped that would be enough time to figure out where we wanted to live.
Leaving Colorado behind was hard. We had made friends there. We fell in love with the Rocky Mountains, the park, Vail, Pagosa Hot Springs, Hanging Lake…. All of it……..
More difficult was leaving our son Kurt behind. He had gotten a job as an electrical apprentice and it was going well. For the past six months he was handing most of his paycheck over to his landlady to pay off back rent from when he had been out of work. He was SO close to caught up when he lost his job. His story involves another, it is not mine to tell so I’ll simply say that he told me he learned you cannot save people – they have to save themselves – and you cannot forgo a paycheck even if you want to be there for others, sometimes you have to think of yourself first and go to work no matter what is happening. Addicts in recovery can be co-dependents too……
He lost his job just as his father accepted a position in St. Petersburg. Now, I know all about not allowing myself to get swept into the ups and downs of his life, but I’m his mother and I’m human – what can I say? I worried. I worried that he would get too depressed about this new turn of events. He had liked his job; he was on track. Now, almost two and a half years into his recovery, he was out of work and broke again. How could he not feel frustrated? How could he get through this without getting depressed? I have faith in his stubbornness and strength – and a LOT of faith in his Village- but still…. getting the house ready to show, packing our things, heading to Florida AND having Kurt in this situation had me tangled in stress.
Back to the three dogs loaded into the car for a three day, thirty-hour journey. No sweat, right?!?!
A funny thing happened as the wheels chewed up the miles driving east through Kansas and Missouri. As I drove away from my son, mile by mile, hour by hour I realized that this distance meant nothing. Nothing at all. In reality my kid is 30 years old. He visited with us maybe once every six weeks or so. We shared a state, but he has his own life. Looking in the rearview mirror as the ribbon of highway lengthened the space between us, I realized that was only physical distance. It meant nothing. That drive was symbolic for me. All of the things I have learned about Kurt and myself over the past few years coalesced in my brain to drive out the fear and stress. We may have been living near each other, and that gave me an illusion of control that I hadn’t realized I’d been holding onto. He is my son. I will always worry about all of my children – that’s a given. BUT, as the miles grew between us it cemented in me a new-found certainty that all my son needs from me is love, support and confidence that he knows how to take care of himself- because he really truly does know, and I really truly understand that he is a capable and intelligent man who has been through hell and come out the other side. He can handle a few blips in the road! He has been working his recovery now for two and a half years. He knows what to do. He knows who to call. By the time I drove through Nashville I knew that he would be OK and I would be OK. My being in Florida rather than Colorado would not change a thing.
That’s not to say that Nashville was smooth sailing. We hit a torrential downpour complete with wild thunder and lightning as well as fireworks going off everywhere as it was July 4th. I ended up navigating the city with a terrified dog in my lap as I watched my husband’s car in front of me drive into a sudden curtain of rain with the convertible top down. Life is an adventure – even as we find peace in one corner of our world the sky will open and remind us that we are never ever in control.
As I was telling Kurt about my driving epiphany, he told me he could hear in my voice that something had changed. I had finally let go for real. It took that drive to get me to see the light.
Today I am sitting in the Tampa airport waiting for our flight to Boston. We are having a family reunion on the Cape (sadly without my husband because he just started a new job..). Kurt is sitting in the Denver airport waiting for his flight. It will be his first time home since he found recovery. Sort of a prodigal son returns moment. He will be seeing his brother and many other family members and friends for the first time in a long time as the real Kurt – the one they remember from ‘before’ – but a new and wiser version. I can’t wait! I know this is a true pilgrimage for him and I am really hoping he’ll write about it for the blog.
The best part about this vacation? On the other side, Kurt will start his new job and we will be selling our home in Colorado and buying one in Florida.