Oniontown Pastoral: Babysitting Ray’s Tobacco

Oniontown Pastoral: Babysitting Ray’s Tobacco

My buddy Ray called last night. “Hey, Pastor, could you drop off my tobacco on your way to church tomorrow? Would it be out of your way?”

Actually, the detour cost me fifteen minutes, but no worries. We have an arrangement: Ray is constantly trying to quit smoking, but he always goes back. To keep temptation at bay, he tosses a bag full of loose tobacco and rolling papers in my trunk, where it keeps my lawn chair and fleece blanket company.

For a couple years I silently stewed about babysitting Ray’s tobacco. Our little routine is exquisitely stupid, but not as bonkers as throwing away thousands of dollars worth of tar and nicotine, only to show up sagging and defeated at Smoker Friendly to buy some more. And that’s exactly what Ray did for years.

So I hang onto what I’m sure is the crummiest of crummy tobacco, $11 a bag. The label says, “Pipe tobacco,” but Ray insists it’s for cigarettes.

“Brother,” I tease him, “you’re smoking shaved, dried out cabbage.”

Whether it ought to be tamped into a pipe or stirred into coleslaw, I’ve driven tobacco to St. John’s Lutheran in Oniontown and back home to Erie, to hospitals in Greenville, Farrell and Sharon, to McCartney’s to pick up birdseed and along Route 19 to the check on a horse I’ve named Onslow. I bet Ray’s smokes have traveled more than he has.

Within a week or two, my friend “yields”—that’s what he calls it—and I swing by his house. This morning I left the goods on his pack porch. He called later and thanked me for the delivery.

Ray is nothing if not grateful, which is one reason I’m not frustrated over my babysitting duties anymore. Of course, I could tell him this foolishness has gone on long enough, and I should never have signed on for such a lost cause in the first place.

Anyway, ire on my part is far less important than this truth: Ray’s smoking cause is probably lost, but my buddy is not. The trouble is, the man’s soul and his addiction are tangled together.

For most smokers, quitting is about trying to stay alive. Ray, whose health has been distressing for years, says, “I love tobacco. I don’t care if I get cancer. I have to die of something.” Snuff, long-cut chew, pipe, cigars, cigarettes, he does them all by turns. These days, he and his old Laredo cigarette roller are fast friends.

Be this happy, Ray. (Credit: Hedwig Ohring on Wikimedia Commons)

I’m not fan of tobacco, but I wish Ray could indulge his addiction in peace. Unfortunately, the vice he adores also torments him. He was raised to believe in a wrathful God who keeps a long list of damnable offenses. Now in his sixties, he can’t stop believing that smoking in this life guarantees burning in the next.

Ray’s many medications leave his body depleted, but what really saps his strength is the withering sense of condemnation he carries around.

My Lord, how we’ve talked. If addictions earn people eternal punishment, then the line into hell is going to reach almost to heaven.

“If you want to improve your health,” I say, “quit tobacco. But if you’re trying to earn God’s love, my advice would be to roll yourself another.” I also tell Ray, “But what do I know?”

Lost cause on my way to Oniontown: an old thresher.

I don’t know the mind of God or claim any particular wisdom. In many ways I’m a lost cause myself. At least I have a nice collection of them. And I spend increasing amounts of time holding hands with folks whose lost causes bring them to their knees or knock them flat.

Does this sound hopeless? Not to me. Sitting cheek to jowl with the unsolvable, inescapable and terminal isn’t about hoping for miracles, but making sure that when a cause is lost, its owner is safe and sound.

So I tell Ray that I’m pretty sure God loves him just the way he is, right down to his smoke-stained fingertips. If he and you and I can believe this, then plenty of causes don’t matter much as long as we remember that our souls can never be lost.

An old, stained, torn message from the Coleman family refrigerator. Only believe, Ray.

Author’s Notes: This post originally appeared in slightly different form in Greenville’s newspaper, the Record Argus. And Ray says I can write about him any time I want.

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A Prayer for Philip Seymour Hoffman, Justin Bieber, and a Child in a Fire

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Philip Seymour Hoffman (Credit: Wikipedia)

I was settling in for my Sunday afternoon ministerial nap with a little channel surfing, and there it was on CNN: Philip Seymour Hoffman found dead in his bathroom; heroin in apartment; needle in his arm. I hollered downstairs for son Micah, a former addict. He sat on the bed at my feet, said, “Oh, no!” and put his face in his hands.

I let a minute pass. “Would he have known what was happening to him?”

“No,” Micah said. “He would’ve passed out right away. He died in a couple minutes.” Clean for over eighteen months, Micah would know.

Heroin has been in the news in Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio lately—maybe beyond, I don’t know. Some sinister entrepreneurs came up with the idea of mixing fentanyl with heroin. The problem: fentanyl is 10 to 100 times stronger than heroin. One recent batch from Allegheny County in southwest Pennsylvania contained 50% fentanyl. Good night!

People are dying, and Hoffman himself appears to have overdosed on that sketchy brew. Maybe because Micah’s a fan, this average-looking-at-best actor is taking up spiritual room in me today. He was at the top of his game, most likely in great shape financially, but there was an ache in him somewhere. At least I imagine this was so. I bet most of us have pain burrowed down so far inside that nothing much can reach it.

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Justin Bieber (Credit: Wikipedia)

Without knowing it, Hoffman foreshadowed the difficulties of another troubled celebrity in a 2006 60 Minutes interview. He may as well have been talking about Justin Bieber, who at that time was probably up close to the mirror, searching for his first whisker. Hoffman said,

I always think, God, I have so much empathy for these young actors that are 19 and all of a sudden they’re beautiful and famous and rich — I’m like, ‘My God, I’d be dead’ — 19, beautiful, famous and rich, that would be it, you know … I think back at that time and think if I had the money, that kind of money.

Ironic, of course: Hoffman’s dead anyway. During Micah’s first months of sobriety, he mentioned that eventually shooting up wasn’t any fun. Life was just about getting ahold of drugs so he wouldn’t feel like crap. I wonder if that’s how it was with Philip Seymour Hoffman.

And what’s Justin Bieber thinking? Beautiful and famous and rich, he’s apparently shaking his groove thing at the edge of the abyss; that is if the news is accurate. Fast cars, booze, some weed. Who knows? Is Bieber going through too much, too fast, too young? Nineteen year olds can be explosive to start with. Whatever his deal, I’d say from my spectator’s distance that inner-peace isn’t part of the package.

What must it be like to have over 200,000 citizens sign a petition calling for you to be deported? My friend Mark posted an insightful defense of the Canadian heartthrob on Facebook a couple days ago:

I’m about tired of people crushing Justin Beiber. Get all your jokes out now. Ha ha ha. No, I don’t have a thing for teenage boys. Are you done? Good. I may be over sensitive to the abuse put on the kid because one of my girls loves him. She is crestfallen every time she hears bad press and even more devastated with the ensuing public dismantling. I love her. So when she hurts, I hurt. I don’t like his music and he’s made some absolutely stupid decisions. HE’S 19! Who among us didn’t do stupid stuff at 19? Okay, take 19 year old you and add, say, 10 million dollars. Holy Crap! Now factor in that everybody with a camera wants to take a picture of you. If you’re doing something wrong, even better. Multiply that by the fact that nobody ever told the kid “no”. He was their meal ticket. They had to keep him happy, no supervision makes a happy teen. All this, and he has screaming hoards of women of all ages wanting to, um, get with him. It’s just math people. He’s going to be a little screwed up.

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Daughter Elena holding grandson Cole. Proposal: What if I try to hold the world and everybody in it with this tenderness and joy? I want to try.

I don’t know if Bieber was never told “no,” but Mark’s got it right. If anything, the kid deserves our understanding. It’s easy to condemn Philip Seymour Hoffman’s junkie death and Justin Bieber’s dumb-ass choices, but only if addiction’s never had you by the throat or your post-pubescent brain has never told you the evil-twin lies: “You’re always right, and you’re invincible.”

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

Credit: corbisimages.com

The last thing Hoffman and Bieber need is my judgment. What they need is all the compassion I can muster. (And it ain’t easy with the latter’s chronically raised eyebrows and extravagant fitteds.) In fact, that’s what every corner of creation needs: my compassion.

Each week I spend hours in contemplative prayer, and you’d think heroin addicts and crazy kids would barge in on my silence and demand my attention. Sometimes this happens, but Hoffman, Bieber, and company are more likely to visit me at an inconvenient moment. On Sunday mornings, just before the congregation receives Holy Communion, we sing the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. The last words are “grant us peace.” We sing it three sweet times: “Grant us peace. Grant us peace. Grant us peace.”

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Grant us peace! (Credit: Lew Robertson / Corbis)

I stand still and pray quietly: “Grant us peace!” I have just a few seconds; if I don’t start distributing the bread, people will think I’ve fallen asleep on my feet. Ah well. Philip Seymour Hoffman will arrive next Sunday, and I’ll sing, “Grant him peace.” Justin Bieber, too: “Grant him peace.” The four-year-old Erie girl who died in a house fire yesterday will appear: “Grant her peace.” And the firefighters who tried to save her: “Grant them peace.”

“Grant us peace.” Part of me wants to stand still in my alb and stole long after the congregation has gone home and sing: “Peace!” Peace for the wealthy and poor with needles stuck in their veins. Peace for the invincible. Peace for saints and sinners everywhere. Peace and healing to that hidden place in all of us, that dark corner where tears reside.

All are welcome in this prayer. Are you suffering? Are you alone to blame? Are you dead, gone into Mystery? Can you hear me? Show up in my spirit. I’ll sing your lovely name to God.

A Study in Complicated Joy

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Paul Simon (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

I’m fussing with a tension lately proposed by Paul Simon. In the liner notes for his 2011 album “So Beautiful or So What?” Simon writes, “The trick is, as I know it, is to care like hell 
and not give a damn at the same time.”
 He puts the challenge in harsher terms than I do. I would say, “How can I offer the world mindful appreciation, love and compassion and remain joyful?” As I try to be a responsible, engaged planetary citizen, Rhymin Simon’s question and mine are far more concrete than they first appear.

I’ll let today, Friday, July 19, 2013—my day off–be a case study. Other than skanky hot weather and a mild crick in my neck, I’m great. I indulged in a wee bit more Apostic Red than was prudent last night, but have escaped a hangover. I gave wife Kathy a kiss goodbye as she headed off to chemo nursing work this morning, and her loving smile was medicinal. Then I dropped son Micah off at work. He and I had the following exchange a couple days ago when I picked him up after eight sweaty hours of painting:

Me: You know, Micah, I’m really proud of how hard you’re working.

Micah: Yeah, I’m actually kind of proud of myself. It’s a nice change from hating myself.

A lot of gorgeous living is possible when you kick heroin. My son’s been clean over a year now, a reality that feels like an anvil has been lifted from my spirit.

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Anvil: what landed on Wile E. Coyote’s head. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Daughter Elena is scheduled to provide Kathy and me with a grandson in November. We viewed his in-progress pictures this week, which is at once teary and bizarre. In some shots you can make out a sweet-faced baby and in others his head resembles lumpy clay. He’s apparently healthy and, if present proportions hold until adulthood, his self-esteem in at least one department is going to be positive, indeed.

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Cute future grandson–still a little lumpy.

As usual, I’ve got my self-indulgent carcass parked at Starbucks, where I’m sipping my fourth iced decaf refill and breathing in and out the present moment’s causes for celebration. Can circumstances take a lousy turn and grind a Nazi heel into today’s happy face? Sure. But for right now, as Simon says, “So beautiful.”

I’ve no desire to stay in any way detached from my fragile joy. No “so what” for me. The tension to be kept productive has to do with silent partners on this Friday walk. How do I care like hell about them without losing my joy? If I’m not mindful of those who’ve been trampled, then my glad day off is selfish and anemic. But if I sacrifice my heart on the altar of everybody else’s suffering, where’s life’s savor?

Two fliers are pinned to the bulletin board behind me.

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“16 year old missing from local Residential Treatment Facility since July 14th at 9:30 p.m.”

I’m guessing people who love Bob Fuller and the unnamed teenage girl aren’t whistling and skipping right now. If Elena were missing, I’d be frantic and paralyzed at the same time.

A couple of folks in my congregation are getting schmutzed over by cancer, and one of them is about to enter hospice care. How many are looking mortality in its black maw as I try to decide whether to get yet another refill?

Yesterday I drove about an hour to visit a friend in prison, only to be told that the place was on lockdown. Sorry, no visit. I think of what it must be like to always talk to loved ones separated by thick plexiglass over a telephone—and to look forward to half-an-hour with a friend, only to have it postponed for a week or two.

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“The warm rush.” Heroin addict shooting up (Credit: Barry Lewis / In Pictures / Corbis)

I read this morning in The New York Times of increasing heroin overdoses in New England these days. Cheap opiate + unpredictable purity + desperate addicts selling themselves for the next fix = auf wiedersehen. “Theresa Dumond, 23,” the article states, “who lives on the streets of Portland, said she sells her body three times a day to support her heroin habit. She lost custody of her two young children about a year ago (‘I can’t keep track’), and their father died.” Shooting up, she says, “It’s the best feeling ever. It’s the warm rush.”

Okay, so there’s a world of hurt—heroin in Maine, cancer in Pennsylvania, vulnerable teenagers missing, God knows where. “So what?” On the whole I bet Paul Simon and I are on the same page, but my trick—to use the songwriter’s term—isn’t detachment, but embrace. It’s making room within my joy for suffering. It’s inviting the junkie and the hospice patient and the lost girl into the day’s mindfulness, the morning and evening prayer, the afternoon siesta.

This way of dealing with the joy-despair tension isn’t pious. Trust me, I’m as screwed up as the next pilgrim, but I refuse to feast on gladness and pretend that others aren’t retching in the dust. So in my spirit I set out napping mats for Bob, Theresa, and all the others and keep them close by as we rest. And in prayer I welcome them to breathe with me.

I like the way this kind of joy works. When I watch hummingbirds drink from the trumpet vine, the wind always carries a hint of manure. Even on dazzling, cloudless days, there’s thunder in the distance. Yes. This gladness seems right.

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(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Wanting To Be Verklempt After Nappus Interruptus

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More people should go to this joint! 3741 West 26th, Erie, PA.

I’m sipping an iced, decaf latte at Brick House Coffee at 5:19 p.m. Micah’s talking life over with his therapist—a life in progress. Those words triggered my question for the day: should I say in progress or incomplete? The answer depends on whether I’m glad or disgruntled. My aura is foggy and fatigued, thanks to a neighbor whose yard work occasionally collides with my siesta, so for the moment, disgruntled wins. She’s nice, but has the loudest leaf blower and weed whacker on the market. A couple years ago when Micah’s death metal band Festering Pestilence practiced in the Coleman basement, I could nap through their roaring hits “Dead and Leaking” (a tribute to one of the boy’s ex-girlfriends) and “Stench of Greed.” Those were the days! But lawn grooming’s high-pitched wheeee and whirrrr make the maple tree propellers, weeds, and me all toss and turn. I gave up and joined neighbors Joy and Kevin on their porch for a Saranac pale ale, which landed in my belly like a quart of bacon grease. Delicious, but ugh.

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Mike Myers as Linda Richman on Saturday Night Live, getting verklempt. (Credit: Wikipedia)

In addition to my cases of nappus interruptus and gut slosh, Zoloft also has a cry trapped in my chest. Yes, I’m a man, and I could use a good blubber. Who knows exactly what it’s about? This is one drag about being on an anti-depressant. Before Zoloft, every day was a swim upstream. I’m much more peaceful overall now thanks to a slim 50 mgs of a chemical, but the sanity comes at a price. Geritol and the Church of Latter Day Saints commercials used to make me verklempt. No more. Tears are rare these days, and I miss them. Anyway, the point: an incomplete cry is exhausting. You try to sigh it out, cough it out, talk it out, whatever. Nothing works. (I’d be glad to hear from any of you who can relate.)

Fortunately, not all of the day’s incompleteness has been a bummer. After prayer this morning, I surveyed the downstairs bathroom, which wonder-wife Kathy is tantalizingly close to finishing. Check out the photographs for a summary.

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Register not yet de-crudded. Cats stay out!

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I’d probably be okay with this for a year.

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Until the privacy curtain is finished, we shower at the rodeo.

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Bathroom door still under anesthetic in the garage. From this angle, it could be art.

Since the bathroom is functional in all necessary ways, I put it in the joyful, in-progress category.

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Shower, sink, toilet: yep, it’s a bathroom, all right.

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Until the door is finished, a curtain fit for a brothel.

Micah himself is obviously in progress. Possibly for the first time in his post-pubescent years, he’s taking employment seriously. (A good friend went to bat for him, got him a job. Gracias!) Nearly one-year clean now, my twenty-one-year-old slides into the passenger seat after a day of painting, lights up a Camel Wides Menthol, and groans. It’s a good tired. For once I’m grateful for cigarette smoke, which smothers his lathery stench of work.

Near the complex where Micah’s painting, a multi-generational gaggle of geese congregates. When I dropped him off this morning, I thought to myself that the youngsters are in progress, which can be a gentle way of saying, “Kind of stupid.” One of them was sleeping in the middle of the road, and as I approached, one of the adults waddled out and said, “Hey, Scooter, get your downy rump off the road.”

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Come along, Scooter.

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Don’t judge me. I’m “in progress.”

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One of the rooms at Brick House. (They also have micro-brews!)

From my corner of the Brick House, I laugh at a gosling and a man-cub, but if ever there were a work in progress it’s me. Or am I incomplete? Eh, whatever. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s a brick shithouse. I mention this because Micah asked me about the term’s origin as we passed this coffee house on the way to therapy. I told him it probably comes from the image of a structure that’s stronger than necessary for its purpose. I was right, basically. Check out straightdope.com if you can’t find anything else to do with yourself.

Off now to fetch my son from shrinkage. He’ll light up, I won’t cry, and we’ll drive home, each thing we speed past praying in its own way for an aura that shimmers hope and growth into the ambiguous afternoon.

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A brick . . . outhouse, surrounded by trees putting out a hopeful aura. (Credit: Wikipedia)

A Shark, a Pan Flute, and a Lemon-Sized Grandchild: It’s All Good!

Over the last ten years, I’ve learned how to answer the question, “How’s it going?”

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At Fourteen Weeks (Credit: http://www.pregnant.thebump.com)

Daughter Elena, twenty-four, is carrying wife Kathy’s and my lemon-sized grandchild and constantly breaking into uber-pearly smiles. Son-in-law Matt, who could probably build a harpsichord blindfolded and with half of his brain tied behind his back, installed a light-fixture today in our bathroom. Now, at 9:19 p.m., Kathy’s willing the new medicine cabinet into its designated spot. Micah’s watching a movie about Siamese warriors with mustaches and puffs of hair he finds annoying. He’s been pleasantly chatty over the past hour, quizzing me on quotes by William Cowper, Oscar Wilde, Aristotle, and Thomas Jefferson. Amazing what you can learn from packs of Mentos gum. I should have known the source of Micah’s favorite: “The whole is more than the sum of the parts.” His hint, “like some Greek guy,” helped.

Other details worth mentioning: at least one of the cats has been rogue pissing in the basement; money’s snug (what’s new); the house is messy in part because the bathroom project presents one complication after another; and a shark is sleeping in the Coleman family’s beach house.

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Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neumann (Credit: Wikipedia)

“So how’s it going?” Splendidly! I’m serious. When Elena was a teenager she went through a Goth period, though black clothes and eyeliner were pimples on the rump her high school years. In my last post I went into Micah’s thrashing about and legal trouble. Sure, cat pee is unpleasant, but in the “how’s it going?” department, Alfred E. Neumann speaks for me: “What, me worry?” My recovering druggy son is playing the pan flute as he watches that fighting movie, and by Thanksgiving I stand a good chance of being a grandfather. So . . . I’m fantastic!

In the midst of my current messes and blessings, I’ve discovered yet another napping venue, which adds to my light spirits. A couple years ago, Renaissance Kathy remodeled Micah’s old basement bedroom, which he called the Batcave—don’t think superhero, think squalor. The rehabilitated room would be called the Beach House, a guest room where Kathy’s friends could stay when they come to Erie to sail on the Brig Niagara.

Last week, when we had a couple of hot, close days, I decided to take siestas down in the Beach House. Great choice. Kathy and I differ in décor tastes, she preferring bright and whimsical and I favoring earthy and depressing, but falling asleep in a cool space that reminded me of my wife’s smile was joyful. I told her the other day I’d consider transferring all dog-days-of-summer sleeping to the Beach House rather than putting the window air conditioner in the upstairs bedroom. We’ll see.

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The Beach House Bed

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Above the Bed

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Starry, Sunny Plate by Elena Thompson

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Visual Wind Chimes (No Breeze in the Basement)

The room’s not perfect. An artificial Christmas tree and air mattress, both in their plastic cases, have moved in temporarily, and a papier-mache shark Kathy made a few Halloweens ago is biting down on a love seat at the foot of the bed. Far from bothering me, sharing the Beach House with Jaws reminds me, again, of my wife. As Micah’s fond of saying, “It’s all good.”

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No, I Did Not Move the Shark for This Photograph

So how’s it going? I’ve got a new place to nap, kids whose future looks decent at the moment, and a wife who got that medicine cabinet where it belongs. The present blessings are more than enough. I’m doing fine.

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Kathy 1, Medicine Cabinet 0

Socks, Pasta, a Memory of Heroin

IMG_0539This Memorial Day weekend I spent an hour sorting socks. The only detail that makes this chore noteworthy is how long I put it off. Eighteen months? Two years? I don’t remember. Why so long? The short answer is, “My son was hooked on heroin, got arrested, and spent ninety days under house arrest.” Micah was a free man as of January 28, 2013, but when you’re a felon, freedom is relative—no driver’s license, no job, hours in group therapy. You’re free, but your penance is lengthy and leaden.

The clean Micah (for almost a year now) is fantastic. With the drug and its relentless, frantic acquisition gone, he’s growing into the twenty-one-year-old man I figured might be under all the junk. He’s not a roaring maw of rage and narcissism. His wardrobe is now polychromatic. He’s patient, generous, quick-witted, and curious. He’s still a slob, but his Titanic is restored, afloat; I’m not about to rearrange his deck chairs. The future is hopeful.

1848 Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe at 39, a...

1848 Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe at 39, a year before his death (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But as anybody who witnesses a loved one’s addiction knows, life consists of one emotional butt whipping after another. I pulled the afghan tight under my chin every afternoon and received what Edgar Allan Poe called “sleep, those little slices of death.” He loathed them. I loved napping as a protest against reality.

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Shredded Basement Paneling, a Scar of Micah’s Worst Months

Days and siestas are much improved as of May 29, 2013; still, mixed in with the relief and stability of Micah’s recovery is residual pain from the past. In the way a marathoner’s body needs time to heal after 26.2 miles, my mind and spirit continue to ache now and then from those times Micah smashed objects in his basement bedroom or paced around the house with clenched jaw and trembling fists. I’ve done some reading on PTSD and wonder about myself. (The particulars of Micah’s, wife Kathy’s, and daughter Elena’s experiences are theirs to tell, so I’m not going into them.)

One sign that I’m healing has to do with socks. An hour seems like nothing, but for however-long-it-was I couldn’t gather up sixty scrawny minute’s worth of energy to pair them. Some people get rid of stress by cleaning. Not me! For whatever reason, then, a couple days ago I dumped that basket on the bed and sorted. Since Micah was in the habit of wandering around in stocking feet, most of the pairs were the sickly gray of dirt that doesn’t yield to bleach. Some were salvageable. Nearly all of them needed to be washed again after multiple seasons in the basement—they smelled like a bunk at summer camp. Random artifacts hid between the folds and in the toes.

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The Throw-Aways

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A Few of My Pairs, Emancipated

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Random Items: BBs, a Bracket, Wood, and What-the-Heck?

Part of me wants to be ashamed of putting off such a simple chore, but as today’s slogan goes, “It is what it is.”

As socks piled up during Micah’s fury, non-perishables also accumulated in the Coleman household’s black-hole-of-a pantry. A couple months ago I reached in and discovered that every time I went to the grocery store a pound of pasta rappelled into my shopping cart. I’d basically been shopping unconscious. “In case we’re out,” I must have thought. We’ll be in good shape with angel hair, linguine, egg noodles, and shells for a while.

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Got Starch?

I asked Micah to read this post before publishing it, and he approves. (He did suggest one change. I’d described above the bunk at summer camp as dank, but he reminded me that word doesn’t just describe moldy caves.) Last night he was catching a smoke on the front porch when I told him through the screen door that I was proud of him, of how well he’s doing. “You know, Micah,” I said, “a lot of what I’m writing about now is what’s going on with me.”

He answered with selfless insight: “You had to live through my addition. You ought to be able to write about it.”

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Micah in December of 2012: Six Months Clean and Experiencing House Arrest’s Cabin Fever

Like I said, the future is hopeful. Micah’s earning back his freedom and learning patience and persistence. I’m healing slowly, waking up to all the socks and pasta that have been keeping vigil as I lurch toward normal.