Sunday, May 17, 2015
I stared at the phone for several long seconds before answering. The automated voice prompted me to push one to accept the call, the collect call, a call from the jail, a call from my son with autism.
I was present when he was born, I watched as his 15 yr old birth mother cried in agony as he was taken from her arms and placed into mine. That was nearly 22 years ago.
His voice was weak, scared, and trembling. I had been searching for weeks for my child, the one that's lived, by choice, on the streets for close to three years. I'd even found a site that is a data base for unidentified bodies. I fearfully studied each drawing, and every marking on the bodies they held. I was afraid, I knew he had no ID, no cell phone, and I had a new number that he didn't have. No one would be able to contact any of his family members if something happened to him.
Then I searched the jails, and finally I found where he was being held. I went through miles of red tape to get my phone number to my child. The next day he called. My heart broke. I called the attorney, that really didn't give a shit, I called the mental health facilitator trying to explain my son's mental conditions, I tried everything to explain how to approach him, how he could react, how fragile he could be one minute, and how destructive the next. I could find no one that would/could help.
I heard the fear in his voice tonight. He goes before a judge tomorrow afternoon. Most likely he'll be held 20 days, far too many for a young man with his mindset, and much too long for his mom. My only consolation is that he has a bed, food, and isn't in the weather.
As I spoke with him, I know his heart is sincere, he wants to do well, he wants to succeed, but with his emotional state that's difficult for him to achieve.
I wanted to hold him in my arms, I wanted to dry his tears, I wanted to make everything ok, but reality tells me something entirely different. My greatest fear for my son is that he's destined to live on the streets, arrested time after time, and perhaps deciding it may be easier for him to live in jail than in society.
How, exactly, does a parent walk that fine line? The line of knowing what is right, or going with our hearts? He was dealt a hand of cards he didn't ask for, and for that his future is unsure.
A person on the street would think my son is an incredible boy, and he is, but there's another side they know nothing about.
Tonight my heart cries. It cries for my son's fear. It cries for his future. It cries because I know there's not a single thing I can do to change things. I can't bear to imagine him in a cell, caged as an animal, while at the same time I firmly believe if he is guilty of something he needs to pay the consequences.
I'm not quite sure how either of us will sleep tonight knowing tomorrow he goes before a judge, that knows nothing of his disabilities, and what his decision will be.
Tonight he and I will both have tears welling in our eyes and droplets running down our cheeks. They will continue until he stands in front of a man tomorrow that hasn't a clue as to my son's disabilities.
And then my phone will ring once more.