Monday, November 18, 2013


He breathes in. I breathe out. I breathe in--the antiseptic air burns my nose and makes my mind fuzzy. He breathes out--the hicuppy sobs make him choke and sputter. For a while, this was the only audible sound; breath entering and leaving our lungs. His—shallow and fast paced. The breath of panic. The breath of fear. Perhaps the breath of one who is experiencing withdrawal.  Mine—deep and slow. The breath of seriousness. The breath of resignation. The breath of a mother trying to stay steady. 
I should be speaking. I should be soothing. But where were the words of comfort? I shut my eyes pretending that my son and I were sitting together on a beach, side by side. I tried to smell the suntan lotion, to hear his staccato laugh as he surfed insurmountable waves, but it was no use. We were not on a beach and we were not alone. 
The ever present guard that sat at a small desk in the doorway to my son’s “room” tried to remain inconspicuous, but curiosity often got the best of him and every once in a while he’d glance our way. I imagined he was wondering how this handsome charismatic 17-year-old ended up in the mental health unit of our small town hospital. I wish I could say that I was wondering the same. I winced at the perfidious thought and mentally pushed it aside. 
Out of guilt and hope, I reached for my child’s hand. When it was accepted, I laced my fingers through his long and spindly ones. We both squeezed at the same time. 
“I don’t belong here,” he managed to squeak out. “You know I don’t belong here right? I am not crazy.” 

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