Tonight will prove to be a long very night, with no relief in sight with the rising of the sun tomorrow.
I spoke to my son today and when he got upset with me, he put the phone down on me.
Later, as I was driving home from the store to buy cake ingredients for my little girl's 9th birthday tomorrow, I saw my son walking along the other side of the street. My first reaction was a smile and excitement and I wanted to pull over and say hello. Then I thought, no, he was not very nice to me on the phone today and all he ever wants from me is money to buy drink. So I kept on driving with a pain and sadness in my heart.
This evening as I returned home from my youngest daughter's ballet lessons, at 7:20 pm, the moment I walked inside my phone rang and I saw it was my son calling. At first glance I was annoyed, "Great", I thought, "he always calls at the most inopportune times".
Much to my surprise it was not my son on the other side of the phone, but a man pretending to be calling from a hospital. He was not that convincing but was trying to make me believe that my son's phone was found and he is in stable condition after an overdose, but then I could tell it was all a farce and I put down the phone.
A few minutes later my son's phone is ringing me again. This time the same man is trying to act the part of a gangster who is after my son because he is a meth head who owes him lots of money and he will slit his throat if he does not pay up. I start retaliating and make it clear that I will not tolerate such vile behaviour and will go to the homeless shelter to report this and take their advice on how to pursue it further.
So I go into the living room and inform my girls that dinner will have to wait, I must run to the homeless shelter because of the phone calls I received. As always, I am over emotional and unable to contain myself and cry as I speak to my daughters.
As I drive along there goes my phone again. The same man but this time he is apologizing for the phone calls and that there is no need to tell the shelter. My son apparently gave him the phone while he ran to go do something. Very unlikely. When he sees my son he will tell him to call me and he is very sorry for upsetting me but I was not moved by his pathetic apology.
I speed over to the shelter and when I get there the workers are outside having a cigarette break before the homeless come at 8:00 pm. it is now about 7:30. I blurted out the story while my legs and arms trembled with such force I thought I would lose control of them. They assured me that my son always arrives at about 8:00 pm and they will ask him to ring me from the shelter's phone, but if he does not show up then they will ring me. Try not to worry I am told.
I drive around the neighbouring streets hoping that my son's bright green backpack will illuminate from the dark pavements and all will be well. I was not successful in my quest. I knew I needed to go home and feed my hungry, bewildered daughters.
Upon returning home I immediately start fixing dinner all the while keeping a watchful eye on the time as well as my phone. Sure enough somewhere around 8:00 pm I get a call, by heart stops beating! It is not my son on the other end. It is a staff member from the shelter that my son in fact did not turn up as usual. I betray my emotions with a quavering voice expressing my fears. They told me they have till 9:00 to turn up, then after that it is too late.
Somehow I managed to contain myself and feed my daughters, then it is nearly 9:00 pm. I was muttering to myself but also talking to my daughter about my worries and confusion as to what actual is going on. She suggests that I ring her brother and see what happens.
The phone is ringing, my heart is sinking, deeper and deeper with each unanswered ring. At last it stops ringing and I hear "Hello". Wrong voice once again. The voice of the woman from the shelter this time. Someone who was with my son earlier, but says he did not make the phone calls to me, has come back to the shelter and handed in my son's phone. The story from him is that my son and a couple of others have "decided" to go on a bender and drink and not come back to the shelter as they know if they drink they will be turned away after being breathalysed.
So why doesn't my son have his phone? Why was this other horrible person torturing me with such horrific "pranks"? Where is my son? Is he really ok? It is one homeless person's word, the homeless person who had my son's phone. Is my son laying in the street after being beat? Is he passed out drunk in the freezing temperatures? Will he freeze? Will he chock on his own vomit. And the words that I can not even say out loud, will I ever see him or speak to him again?
The woman at the shelter assures me all is well and tomorrow at mid day when my son comes to register for a room for the night he will get his phone back and he will be told to ring me. I have to wait a very very long time and tomorrow is my little girls birthday! Please God, do not be so cruel that my youngest child's birthday will be the anniversary of some tragedy that happened to my first born!
I saw him today with excitement as my eyes recognised him, but with a heavy heart I decided to let him keep on walking. Please do not let that be the last image I have of the boy who first brought me the most wonderful joy a woman can imagine in her life, the joy of motherhood!