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Empathy,Not Anger ...Disappointment ,Sadness

When I allow myself to think of my 20 years with my Keith,i often focus on those last 3 or 4 as they were the most unforgettable.The last 2 especially....2 years spent with 18,EIGHTEEN rehabs,some-most 3 day,some 5 day and one -the best-6 month court mandated. Those rehabs we considered "vacations". We would drive Keith,sit with him,sometimes for hours,waiting to be checked in..tell him we loved him,then drive back home filled with relief that we had our break. I would then rip his room apart,convinced THIS would be the one that would "cure" him. Rid his room of all aspects of his drug use,wash the windows,curtains,linens and close the door. Ahhh...Peace. Laughingly,set the table for 3 (who knew THAT wasn't funny?) until it was time for pickup and our hearts were in our mouths until it began again,and our belongings would go missing,we would start sleeping with our checkbook and bank cards and ignore our daughter all over again.

Why then,did I never get mad? Oh,i was horribly frustrated,sad,brought to my knees time and again...but when I looked into the eyes of this very much wanted,loved young man I saw heartbreak,desperation and a boy who lost his way. My boy. My heart. Love of my life. What I know happened in THIS house would absolutely horrify most,and,it horrified and terrified us. Brought us to the brink of despair,and if i'm beng honest,we almost lost everythin trying to save Keith. I'd sleep in my car if it would save Keith. It couldn't. We couldn't. And,i simply could not get mad at the chld i brought into this world that delighted us day in and day out-until he frustrated us.

The final time,the one single time i decided to show myself,was the VERY DAY he left us.Picking Keith up from that last rehab and driving 90 minutes home,we had such an insightful,sad talk,he and I that continued until we hit the back door. Then,he took his cell phone and listened to his messages and played those dreaded threatening messages and had to go pay someone back. I gave him the money,after I also listened to them- I was so frustrated,so upset i told him how I felt and how this better be the last person he owes money to. I do believe i was-dare i say-angry.......

Keith never came home . 90 minutes later the hospital called and told us to please hurry and get there.

I will never,ever forgive myself,yet i understand it is not my fault.Noone could have tried any harder to save someone. I believe it is why I give so freely to others and have great empathy.....YET flip my switch SO quickly at the same time now.

Our son Keith started as a quiet reflective child,who morphed into a headline athlete who excelled in any sport he tried,yet he was never really content with himself. My husband and I were his number one fans and he knew he was the Golden Boy. I couldn't have told him enough. You cannot help someone who cannot help themselves. In the end,all you can do is tell yourself you did everything you could,and we did,and thank goodness for the memories you made,and not sob WHEN you set the table for 3......

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About the Author

My name is Lisa McCarthy.I am married 3o years now to Tim and we have two children.One is thankfully here with us,our beautiful daughter Randi,who is now 24 and our wonderful son Keith who left us and rocked our world at age 20, February 26,2006. To say we have not recovered would be an understatement.I can't fathom a life without my golden boy.Yet,I wake up every single day,and I go on. We go on. Thankful for memories and the terrific life we gave him....but it just isn't enough.Seven years have passed in a blur. A lifetime of this struggle?? I can't imagine.

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