Over time, Charles’ depression and addiction changed him. Depression sucked away his motivation and planted thoughts of suicide and by then his antidote was heroin.
The change was subtle, slow, and methodical. Laughter was less frequent. He slept really late. He was even more hyper social than usual.
More than once, I would wonder, “What’s going on?” Something was different. I would search his room after he left but it turned up nothing.
I would wonder why he always had to be with friends for every waking moment. I asked him about it and still remember the pained look on his face, how he diverted his eyes away from me as the afternoon sun streamed through his bedhead. His floppy, loose curls were even beautiful after his pillows had mashed it.
Why is this moment important? That look. That hesitation when he implied that he needed to be with friends.
“Mom, you know how much I hate to be alone.”
Did I ever ask why he hated being alone? I don’t know if I did.
He wasn’t looking for a job. Just sleeping late, waking up and then on the phone trying to find someone with whom to go to the river or whatever excursion was planned for the day.
I thought to myself, “Life isn’t all about hanging out with friends.” I was irked but also something else. But I didn’t say it out loud. I was sure he saw it on my face but then there was that look again, the one I couldn’t quite interpret. That is the one burned in my memory. I still see the sun lighting up the edges of his hair giving him an almost surreal, angelic appearance.
And here’s why I remember it. He wanted to tell me. He did and I could feel it.
He wanted to say, “Hey mom, I hang out with friends all the time because I’m afraid of what I will do to myself if I’m alone.” But he didn’t say it. His face did and I couldn’t translate it but the scene replayed in my head over and over and over for days and weeks after that trying to figure it out.
There was no way I would have ever come to that conclusion had he not left me the gift of his song lyrics.
My problem was that I was always thinking about his future. That’s what moms and dads do.
But he was thinking how he’s going to survive that day.