Monday, January 1, 2018

Family Secrets

Family Secrets
By Michael Cannata          

           I wanted so much to tell her. Our son had a serious drug abuse problem. I learned of it late one night when I got a call from the police. His mother was upstairs sleeping and it was the sort of news that I didn't want to wake her to share. He had overdosed and landed in the emergency ward. It was a close call, but the doctors managed to save him.

            I left her sleeping and drove to the hospital alone. He was conscious and I was angry. Together we cried, fought and worked out our feelings. He wanted to change and needed my help. 

            Our son loved his mother as much as one person can love another. He begged me not to tell her, he was afraid of what knowing would do to her and so was I, so I didn't. We both knew it would kill her if she found out. He was her pride and joy.  He was mine as well. He was a straight "A" student in high school. He was now in his sophomore year at college. He had his whole life ahead of him. I didn't want to see him destroy it all.

            It had started when he went to college. He blamed the peer pressure; the need to fit in with a faster, older crowd. He was able to hide his addictions easily enough. He lived on campus most of the year. He always looked OK.  We never had any suspicions or indications that would have led us to believe what he was straggling with; until the night of that call.

            My son and I went to counseling sessions together. He enrolled in a rehab clinic that I paid for out of my pocket. Intent on keeping my promise that his mother would never know,  I had any mail or notices sent to a private post office box. He tried his best to beat the habit. Unfortunately, like most addicts, he relapsed often. Eventually, his binges became more intense. He'd disappear for days only to reappear at a clinic looking more desperate each time.

            The deception began to weigh on me heavily. I was cheating our son out of both of our love and support at the most serious crisis in his life. It was getting to the point where, in trying to protect his mother, I was becoming the kind of person I swore to her I would never be, a liar. If my wife ever found out she would never trust me again. We had never kept anything from each other. It would destroy our marriage, our family, if she found out from anyone else about our sons problem. Telling her wasn't just the right thing to do, it was the only thing. It always had been. I hated myself for having kept the secret.

            When he finally lost his license for driving drunk, I decided it was time to tell her the truth, no matter how much it hurt. Once she was over the pain, I believed she would be even more help to him than I had been. I wanted to be the one to tell her. I was going to do it that night after making her dinner.

            The call came as I was setting the table. She was killed in the car accident along with him that afternoon. He never should have been driving. She didn't know, because I wanted to tell her, but I didn't.

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