Thursday, December 3, 2015

Addict. Friend.

"He's being arrested," was all the text said.

That meant he, out on parole, with a long record, was going back to prison.

He had made it almost two years before things came unraveled. He was working on the prison magazines, doing odd jobs as a handyman, remodeling an apartment, and playing music. He was in love. Things were going well.

Then something happened. Maybe the biochemistry went haywire; maybe the hep C kicked in and pickled his brain; maybe the call of the dragon just became too much to bear.

We may never know.

Best case scenario: the system sorts it out in his favor, looking at the medical side of things rather the the trespassing, the aggressive behavior, the DUI.

Whatever the case, he may not get the break he needs. The hard fact of cuffs on the wrists, mug shots, cold bunk, and orange jump suit form another gauntlet that he will have to run. He carries with him an entourage of demons, of blood hungry for relief from pain, of a history that condemns him.

As I enter another day, I feel the weight of him. He is my friend. I can barely put one foot in front of the other, get my eyes to focus on the words of students that need reading. There will be meetings, talk of assessment, syllabi, grades, and eyes staring at me when I lose my thoughts in mid sentence.

Was there something I could have done? Could I have brought him to my house, fed him tea, chicken, potatoes, cranberries? Could I have held some of his torment, heard a confession? Was I too damned busy to care? 

I have to lift this weight, let it rest on me. The awkward shape of it something I cannot sustain for long before I have to shift, my muscles aching.

My steps are heavy, slow, labored. But I take them because I have to. The will to go on is still greater than the weight I have to bear.

Even though the burden persists, the outcomes are out of my hands.

The road I walk has nowhere near the sharp edges of the one he does. I hope he knows that friends are thinking of him in these hard times.

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