I dropped Chris off at his new apartment a few days ago where he’d stay for a couple of nights as he eases his way into full time independent living. He’d spent his first night there the week before. It didn’t all go as smoothly as I had hoped. Chris was in a foul mood, alternately blaming me for pushing him out the door at the last minute without adequate time to collect his thoughts or his belongings while giving all the impression of being eager to put as much distance between me and him as possible.
Dumping him at the apartment Saturday morning along with groceries for the week-end and then beating a hasty retreat after a shouting match about finding his door keys and his phone so that he could communicate with the outside world was not the way I had envisioned this auspicious day. In my mind I imagined warmly embracing him, both of us perhaps shedding a tear, and agreeing this day was long overdue.
I returned to the apartment a few hours later bearing the previous night’s dinner he could warm up. I saw that the groceries were still in their bags, the bed was unmade, and he had not managed to find his phone. We got into my car and drive back to my house (no longer his house) and ransacked the place looking for the phone which was nowhere to be found. I drove him back to his place and left him there to survive another night and day on his own. I’ll be there for Sunday night dinner, I promised. Pour a bottle of root beer over the pork and then plug in the crockpot for eight hours. That’s all you have to do.
Sunday night dinner was delicious and when I arrived, the place was spotless. Social services will eventually supply him with a house mate, but for the time being he is on his own.
He’ll make it work.
Normally, I don’t have anxiety-provoking dreams, but last night was different. Okay, I know I had too much to drink, and the Ben & Jerry’s for dessert didn’t help, but by 3 a.m. I was awake from my dream and heart pounding-in-my-throat anxious. The dream was the usual day residue. The family friend who telephoned earlier in the evening (whom I’m convinced is a spy) made a spy-like apearance in my dream. I had also read a poignant story in the New York Times earlier in the day about the struggle of a young, autistic man to become independent. So that went into my dream, too, and resulted in anxiety—about Chris. In my dream Chris was planning to go back to college and, rather than rejoice, I didn’t think he was ready and I didn’t want him to go! When I woke up I realized how much I’ll miss him and his brother Alex, when they eventually leave home. The autism story had really shaken me.
Reality tells me that Chris is doing fine, but finding comfort in reality is something best done in the daylight hours when I’m more fearless. So, in order to get to sleep I had a talk with myself to go back and set the outcome of that dream differently, to something more accommodating of the fact that Chris is going to leave the nest eventually. I can’t remember how it all worked out, but I managed to get back to sleep.
Chris phoned me at work this morning with the wonderful news that he was asked to be part of an octet at an upcoming concert featuring the music of Vaughn Williams, Purcell and some other English guy. I recalled that, when we had guests over last night, Chris sat in the living room with Alex and the rest of us, very at ease with the conversation and making interesting comments of his own. I can remember that it wasn’t so long ago (after his third hospitalization) that he was too socially withdrawn to be around company. I had wondered at the time if he would ever snap out of this painful period of his life.
Life goes on. People grow and change.