I have come to the very obvious conclusion that if you are an alcoholic, albeit sober, from a crazy dysfunctional family with daddy issues and you procreate with a messed up alcoholic (not sober) from a crazy dysfunctional family with daddy issues the chance of you having alcoholic kids from a crazy dysfunctional family with daddy issues and mommy issues for that matter is, oh I would say, 100%. So to find myself with three strangers and a therapy Chihuahua named Chiquita in my house getting ready to wake up my sleeping 17 year old daughter, corral her into the SUV and drive her to Utah all before 7:30 in the morning, was not out of the realm of possibilities. However, when she was an adorable, funny, bright, energetic toddler not once did I think to myself, I really hope that you are a totally out of control teenager with a crazy boyfriend, useless friends, with a taste for booze and drugs so that someday you will get clean and sober and we will skip down the road of happy destiny hand in hand. I can say with confidence that thought never crossed my mind.
But here we were. I opened the door to her bedroom, she was snuggled down under the comforter, only her dark brown curls visible. I sat down next to her on the bed and put my hand on her shoulder. It was a can of all hell’s going to break loose in a second that I was really opening up and my heart was pounding out of my chest. I shook her awake and behind me Taneesha was standing in the doorway. She was a large woman, not fat, but tall and big and sturdy and she took up the space in the doorway so no light from the hall could get in. My daughter began to open her eyes, stretch and rub them the same way she did when she was 3.
My prevailing thought over the last few days while planning the transport was that when she surrendered into the backseat of the car she would breath out, finally. She would feel this great sense of relief, as if, like a mama cat securing one of her stray kittens between her teeth and delivering her back to the center of the litter, this is what God had done for her. And when I saw her three weeks later that was indeed her prevailing feeling. But that last 45 minutes in our house my heart shattered all over her bedroom floor into such teeny tiny pieces there was no way I thought, my heart would ever be whole again.
The final pleas, apologies, negotiations and bargaining were torturous to hear. At one point she held my face between her hands and said, “Please mommy, please don’t send me away. I’m afraid you’ll leave me in Utah, and won’t come get me. Please, mommy. I’ll be good. I promise, mommy. I promise!” Our tears mixed on the bathroom floor and I kissed her all over her face and said, “I love you, baby girl. I love you to the moon and back. I will never leave you.”
She did get in the car. She walked by herself which I thought was a good sign, with her pink back pack and her fleece blanket. Teneesha got in beside her assuring her that everything was going to be ok, and no one is going to leave you anywhere, and we’ll stop and get some food in awhile, and you’re gonna be alright.
I didn’t kiss her goodbye in the car because I was afraid she would hold on to my neck and not let me go. And that I would do the same thing with her. Instead I waved from the driveway as they backed out and headed down the street and walked back into the house to collect the fractured fragments of my broken heart and begin the long arduous process of gluing them back together.