“You should come take a picture of the sunrise.”
It was 7:15 on a Monday morning I didn’t actually need to be up for. President’s Day. My office was closed for the holiday, and in an idyllic world I’d be sleeping in, gearing up to get some writing done, or spending a relaxed family day. But “idyllic” wasn’t our world and hadn’t been for awhile.
The weekend had started well and ended rough. We’d been here before. More than I’d like to think about over the last nine months. We’d done a family dinner Saturday to celebrate my little brother’s birthday. We’d had a family dinner with just us and our three kids Sunday and he’d sat down to eat, he’d joined conversations, he’d laughed. Then he disappeared. He relapsed. We started over.
Something had to give. I had to stop giving in. He had to decide what he wanted. He didn’t need to be saved, he needed to save himself and decide he was going to do so. We’d cried, we’d screamed, we’d pleaded and begged and bribed for months. He needed to make the choice on his own.
He didn’t make his final choice that Monday. He talked about fixing it but he wasn’t really there yet. By Thursday he was gone again. He pushed it and made us do what we never wanted to do. We didn’t want to have to make that choice but we had to stop the chaos. My heart couldn’t break anymore. I needed to get back to a different kind of normal. We had to make him choose to get help or leave. He left that night.
Then another Monday came, another day at home for me. This time not for a holiday but for a sick day, recovering from a chest cold. Exhaustion. The texts started first – He wanted to get better. He wanted to come home – and my heart hurt all over again. The phone rang and my husband answered. Tears. He wanted to get help. He wanted to come home. He let my dad bring him to us, knowing what the outcome would be. Coming home only meant one thing.
He packed a bag, he cried, but he didn’t say no. When we got him to the door of the place I hope will save him he didn’t beg to leave. It was different this time. This time he knew he needed to stay. He knew he needed to be somewhere safer than home. And it took him some time to admit it, but I think he knew it on that first Monday morning, watching that sunrise.
“You should take the picture with me in it.” he’d said through quiet tears over his shoulder. I stood, barefoot, on the winter morning concrete, and snapped the shot he’d requested. He never asked to see it. His mind was elsewhere during that sunrise.