by Brooke Davis
Two weeks ago, I attended my son’s commencement at The Healing Place.
After over a year, my eldest son, Alex, completed all the requirements of their program and received a diploma. He and the other 6 members of the 62nd class dressed in suits and ties as their teachers from the Works Class, the residents and many alumni looked on. We as parents were given seats in the front row. There were easily 200 in attendance.
It has been years since a teacher praised my son to me, for his efforts in class and his intelligence. That felt good to hear.
The director or the program came up to me to tell me how proud she was of my son for his progress. Each of the graduates had a speech given about him. All of them made me cry. The gentleman who spoke about my son, clearly knew Alex’s background and his struggles to regain sobriety over the past few years. He also described an analytical, philosophical, compassionate man I did not know existed.
Later Alex and each of the other graduates were invited to give their own speeches. Alex shared how he was sure God had saved him because he clearly could not have recovered without his help. He thanked me, his step Dad, his grandmother and father for being there for him for hugs, rides to meetings and medical care. Even more tears flowed.
Normally photographs would not be allowed on the premises to preserve the anonymity of the residents. That day, we were able to take pictures of the graduates, their certificates and their gift to the Healing Place. The class of 62 created a beautifully summary of the spiritual principals of the 12 steps and painted them in calligraphy on the wall.
Post commencement, the men still had to follow the strict rules of the facility. We could not take the graduates out for a meal or coffee. I could not post pictures on social media to share with friends and family for fear of breaking my son’s anonymity. So, my husband and I came home, without our son. After such joy, I left with that all too familiar knot in my stomach. Any parent who has ever had to leave their child at a treatment center knows what I mean.
A couple of days later, Alex did have permission to visit us at our house for a few hours. When I picked him up we both agreed that there was an enormous amount of grief after the ceremony. I am proud of Alex and he is proud of his progress. But the realization hit us both like a ton of bricks that working hard to stay sober will be something he has to do every day for the rest of his life.
Keeping the focus on myself and my recovery as the parent of an addict will continue to be my focus. We will never be done.