I don't miss Ethan.
The idea came to me Wednesday just in a flash and I thought, "How horrible!"
But it's the truth. With what feels like forty-thousand other things on my plate, from E1's SPD therapy to the baby's fractious behavior with cutting molars and my husband's broken arm, I don't miss Ethan's needs being part of what I have to deal with every day. In fact, I think if I had to deal with one of Ethan's meltdowns on the phone -- either anger or tears depending on whether he was using and what was going on in his life and head -- I think I'd just go ahead and check myself into a psych ward for a few days and let everyone else sort it out.
I don't miss his drama. Someone was always pissing him off and it was usually the person doing the most to help him. It could be the secretary or the pastor at the church where he had his shining moment as video production coordinator for about six months. It could be my mom or dad, who lived closest to where he had finally came to rest and tried to get him to doctors or the grocery store or pick him up for an occasional odd job. Sometimes it was me, and I guess he called someone else to rant and I didn't hear from him for weeks.
I don't miss worrying about his drug use and what it was doing to him. I knew he was using and lying because that's what addicts do, although he always denied he was addicted. He even asked me to print out his bank statement so he could settle a bill, and there was the evidence in daily trips to a dollar store where the OTC cough medicine he used was cheap and I could have probably done reverse math and figured how many packs he bought and used each time. When I finally told him I knew and just wasn't going to fight about it, it was a fight from his side in defense of how much better it made his life. We didn't talk for weeks after that and had just begun talking again a few days before he died.
I don't miss knowing that his life was so far from anything I could understand or have ever hoped he would have. That it was a grimy little apartment with video games, a guitar, and getting high, that he was always just one step away from a return to jail or the emergency room or homelessness.
I don't miss knowing that the smart, sensitive boy that I knew so well didn't really seem to exist any more and that the DUKE TIP and top student awards were just languishing in drawers, that college was probably never going to be his reality, that I wasn't even sure he'd ever be able to take time from fighting his demons to support himself.
I grieve for Ethan and the loss of the person I know he really was before all of the drugs and heartache buried him in such a shell of pain.
And there are things I do miss.
I miss knowing that I'll see him at his best at family events when he would clean up, sober up, and pull himself together long enough to endure it. Those get-togethers that felt like fun and hope to me probably felt forced and painful to him because there was probably always a part of him that just wanted to escape it all, just as there was a part that wanted to be accepted and stay forever.
I miss the occasional good phone calls, where something funny had happened that he wanted to share, or he just wanted to hear my voice or see how things were here. You have to understand, those were rare, but I always grabbed the phone when he called at a normal hour hoping that it would be one of those calls.
I miss his sarcastic sense of humor, him mimicking my dad's voice, which has been altered by a damaged larynx, or pretending to be someone else on the phone.
I miss his boyishness, although it worried me because it seemed his addiction had in many ways frozen him in time. Although he was aging, his dreams weren't adapting. One of the last things I bought him was a skateboard because he loved skateboarding before the drugs took over and he didn't have a board any more. He called and asked for one and it was expensive and I put off ordering it for a week or so, but finally did. It's at my house now, the wheels and deck scuffed with evidence that yes, he did use it although I don't think he ever told me he did.
I miss his smile and laugh and his beautiful blue eyes.
I miss watching him eat a chocolate-covered, cream-filled Krispy Kreme doughnut, or a piece of cake, or a Taco Bell burrito, or pizza, or huge plate of any of the foods he loved, because he enjoyed eating especially when it was a treat not part of his regular diet.
I miss the sound of his voice.
I miss his hugs when he completely enveloped me in his arms and often picked me up just to remind me that he was so big and strong and could pick up his momma.
So I guess, when it comes right down to it, I do miss Ethan. I'm just relieved that I don't have any of the bad parts to deal with this week.
But I'd take them all just to have his arms around me again.