Demons Have My Son!

Demons Have My Son!

What dreams are these that torture my son at night?
Which demon haunts him?
Show yourself coward!
God’s blood wasn’t shed for you!
You are nothing.
A shadow.
A long forgotten fear.
Face ME! Not him and I will surely strike you down.
Leave him now and run to the shadows where you belong!
But as I watch his troubled sleep I realize,
It’s the drugs.  Again.

Doc Knowles  2014

It may be the hardest thing a man must ever do.  Sending a son away.  Storming off into the late day.  So much anger.  Where did that come from?  We have lived through so much, his mother and I.  This, though; the worst. There is no rest.  No peace in the house. He lies; he steals (even from us).  I’d sooner have died from the cancer I have than see him destroy himself this way.  I’d rather I live on the street than him.  I think, “Can I make a trade Lord?  His life for mine?”  And then I wonder; do I have the courage to make such a bargain?  I really don’t want to die.  In the end, I hope I would have the courage.  The choice was never mine in the first place though.  Demons have my son!

I see him now, his gaunt, dark and looming frame.  God! How he has grown!  His soul so restless now.  It wasn’t always this way.  He was a soft, almost zoftig baby.  His kisses always wet and messy.  His first “big boy” shoes, his most prize possession.  In the car, he was always rocking, bouncing off of the back of the seat.  Should I have seen his restlessness then?  As a young boy, he was always on the go.  Should I have seen it then?  Friends invited him everywhere. He did everything.  Snowboards, motorcycles, camping trips, weekends away; his mother and I thought he was just active.  How could we know?

I wonder, was it the cancer?  It would be nice to have a real culprit.  Something to blame.  Neat and tidy.  Like putting your finger on a map, “it all started here!”  We came home that day, sat the boys down and told them.  “I have cancer, but we’ll get through it.  Don’t worry.  I’m too tough to die!”  It turns out (so far, at least) that I am (too tough to die).  But, back then I wasn’t so sure.  The boys were scared, especially our youngest.  I think it frightened him more than either of us knew.  I blame myself.  My focus wasn’t on them.  I was so damnedably sick.

It seemed like overnight.  One day he was a little boy out playing in the back yard, the next day he was stealing my oxycontin, crushing it into a spoon and snorting it.  What happened?  I blame myself for that, too.  We, no that’s not right… I;  I should have locked up my pain pills.  We caught him of course.  The insurance company won’t let you have so many of those that you could lose count.  You have just enough to get through the month.  So, when we came up short one month his mother and I put our heads together.  Must be a mistake we thought.  Maybe we miscounted.  So, we counted.  The next day, one fewer than we knew was there the day before.

When we confronted him, his denial was strenuous.  I nearly gave in.  Finally, though the truth won out.  It was him.  Then the whole story started to come.  The nights he snuck out through the window in his bedroom.  Hitching into town at midnight.  Going to parties.  Smoking dope.  “I just like getting high,” he said.  I was shell shocked.  Where in hell was I when all of this happened?  The steroids the doctors had prescribed had kept me up all hours of the night and I didn’t hear him?  Am I deaf?  I must have been.  It was only then, when his mother and I thought back, that we saw what we know now to be the signs.  His anger, his grades.  He stopped playing sports.  My God!  I’ve read all of the articles about teenaged drug abuse.  How did I miss that?  He barely graduated from high school.  We think they just passed him through to get rid of him.  I felt as though I’d been in a coma and had just woken up.

Eight years. Eight years from then to now and it has only gotten worse.  From oxycontin to heroin. From petty theft to felony and county jail. Out-patient clinics, NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings three and four nights a week for what seemed like an eternity.

Finally, we had had enough.  One fight too many.  One lie too many.  So much stress.  We asked him to leave our home, his home. We fear that torturous ring of the phone in the middle of the night. Each time it rings we ask, “Have the demons won?”

I search my soul for an answer, but I’m always left with one unbearable truth; I can’t help him.  We can’t help him.  Even still, he’s our son and still his sleep is tortured by nightmares and shadows.  He moans and mumbles curses and moves constantly.  No real rest.  Demons have my son.

He has recovered for short periods of time and relapsed several times in his short life.  More even than many, much more mature adult addicts.  He still doesn’t and won’t live in our home.  He knows, finally, that his recovery is his responsibility and our home is no longer his home.  He lives in another home, still though, not his home.  His mother and I beg and pray to God that he finds a way to fight through his struggle with the stress and everyday trials life and God put in his way.  We are ever hopeful.  We are always worried.  His demons still haunt his dreams and ours.  We see them lurking in the streets and alleys.  Waiting.  But the battle, his battle continues.  It is after all, life or death.

In the end, this is a story I take no pleasure in telling.  It is an open wound that will never heal.  Ever.  Drugs are the real demons in our day.  They subvert and steal our children’s childhood and even their lives.  The devil lives in the hallways and lockers of our schools and streets.

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