Was it the End or the Beginning?

I walked to school.  Our middle school was tucked neatly into our mixed neighborhood of apartments, town homes and the subdivision of very nice upscale houses.  The school was located just behind the housing development, adjacent to the town homes.  Each little world was separate and distinct, and the school bridged the line carefully.  I enjoyed walking to school, even in the harshest weather.  It meant I could stay after school for any activity if necessary; I was already competing with the band for small ensemble works and you needed to be able to stay after school for the practices.  With my mother working downtown, it was nearly impossible for me to find a ride anywhere after school, especially with my sister now attending college downtown as well.  I was grateful every day for my ten minute walk that took me to my school every day.

So that is why I knew something was wrong when I got within sight distance of my house.  I could see my mother’s car parked in our reserved spot, something that I never saw at this time of day on my way home from school.  She was always at work until at least six, sometimes later, because she reasoned she might as well stay at work and get work done rather than leave earlier and sit in traffic.  So my arrival at home just before 3pm made this scenario very unusual.

It was early spring.  The ground was soggy and wet from melting snow, but it wasn’t quite warm enough to throw open the windows and embrace the season.  The kind of weather that made kids at school want to wear shorts and their parents fight with them about doing so.  The storm door was closed but the heavy door was open, and the sun poured inside.

I opened the door and looked around.  No one.  It was quiet.  I put down my backpack and went towards the kitchen.  No one.  But I could hear shuffling up stairs.

When I got to the top of the stairs, I could see my brother’s bedroom door was open.  That was unusual.  Normally all of the bedroom doors were not only shut, but locked.  This was our agreement from the family therapist in an attempt to try and put boundaries to my brother’s impulses.  My brother’s room was at the end of the hallway, but I could very clearly see my mother standing in the middle of it through the open doorway.  Something was wrong.  My mother was home in the middle of the day and she was in my brother’s room without him here screaming at her about it.  Normally there would be a chorus of “Get out,” or “None of your business,” in response to my mother’s attempt to figure out what was going on in there.  But there was nothing.  He wasn’t here.

“What’s going on?” I asked, closing the gap between us in a few steps.

She looked up at me from amid the piles of clothing, clutter and mess.  She swallowed tightly.  “Your brother has been put back in the hospital.  A different one than the last time.  He apparently said some things to the school counselor today that gave her a lot of concern.”

Uh oh.  I could only imagine.  My brother was absent from home a great deal these days and angry and dark when he was at home.  He was stealing money whenever he could to buy what we assumed to be drugs.  He’d already served time in juvenile hall the summer before and didn’t take away any sort of lessons on why he needed to change his ways from the experience.

My brother had been quarantined at school immediately upon voicing a suicidal threat to the counselor at school that day.  He had also, apparently, voiced a threat against my mother and myself in his rant.    The counselor called my mother and father, and while she waited for them to make their commutes back out to the suburbs, she searched around for a bed at one of the local psychiatric hospital.  Unfortunately, my mother’s new state insurance wasn’t as good as her previous one had been, and with my brother’s preexisting history of depression and anxiety, the only bed they could find for him was in the youth wing of the state psychiatric hospital.  My mother had just returned from taking him there, and the jumble of clothes and belongings she was looking at was the aftermath of the hurried pack job that she had accomplished several hours ago.

It would be 72 hours before we would be allowed to see him.  No phone calls, no contact at all during that time.  They would assess his level of danger to himself and others and try to treat him so that he could be returned to the family.  No one knew how long that would taken, she explained to me.

My mother didn’t look at me while she explained all of this.  I tried to gauge how this information should make me feel by her stature, her demeanor, her delivery.  Was this bad news?  Was it hopeful news?  Was this the end or a beginning?

She finally looked up and met my probing eyes.  My mother looked…relieved.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: