I didn’t talk much about this visit ahead of time. I didn’t know what to say, let alone what to expect. My oldest son has been at a Residential Treatment Center for eighteen months. That is a long time in adolescence, it is a long time in the heart of a mom, too.
Phoenix came home last week for a visit. It was scary, letting that door open again on wounds still healing, and not just mine. We are a family of eight. There has been a lot of salve passed around, as we apply it to all of our hearts. Opening the door was saying Yes to the unknown. Saying Yes to the fragile places and allowing room for the possibility of more aches.
There has been a lot of growth in our family over the past eighteen months. It was wonderful to have our son home and see that he has been growing just as much as the rest of us. Genuine smiles filled everyones faces. It was a relief to have our time together go well.
I don’t know what happens next. There was one moment where Jer and I questioned our ability to put our son back on the plane. Life isn’t easy at his school. Consequences are steep. There are no hugs from mom and dad at the end of the day. It is hard to send a child you love to a place that is breaking him of many negative behaviors, because we all know how hard change is. It is not easy to change, for any of us. And I know that it is doubly hard for Phoenix because his behaviors were borne out of survival skills.
Having all my children in one place was such a beautiful gift. There have been many memories over the past 18 months not-quite-right because someone was missing. And for a few days, no one was missing.
This part of our family’s history is messy and hard and not very lovely because you can’t rewind or fast forward these things. You have to walk through them. It is hard to walk through the messy parts.