Sometimes it’s the only thing on earth that can save us
Posted in , Apr 29, 2016
Here is Edward Grinnan’s Editor’s Note for the May 2016 issue of Guideposts. If you’d like to subscribe, click here.
Lynne Nichols’s story begins with a desperate late-night phone call from her drug-addicted son, Ben, who has just been expelled from a sober-recovery house for using drugs again. He has no money, nowhere to go and little hope left for himself. In fact, the large quantity of drugs he has ingested is no accident, as Lynne soon learns. Lynne wrestles with the dilemma of whether coming to her son’s rescue yet again is an act of love or just a continuation of her enabling. It is a quandary many mothers—many parents—face these days as drug addiction, especially opioid dependence, maintains its hold on our country.
Many years ago, as I recount in my Guideposts book, The Promise of Hope, I was Ben. I made a very similar call. I still remember walking across the vast concourse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, 15 years before it would cease to exist. Crossing that marble expanse to the gleaming phone bank on the far wall that night was as difficult a journey as I had ever made. I fought it every unsteady step. But like Ben, my options had reached a vanishing point. I was penniless, foodless, homeless; weakened by drugs and drink, dehydration and hunger; broken in spirit, mind and body. And yet I resisted. I didn’t want to make that call. A dozen times I paused, wanting to turn around and disappear into the night, disappear forever.
I made the call, collect. And when the voice answered on the other end I sagged with relief. All I could say was, “Mom?” Not “help” or “hello.” Just “Mom.” That one word was the beginning of my way back.
A mother’s love is often our last refuge. I sympathize with Lynne’s worry that she was enabling her son. In a narrow sense it might have been true. But a mother’s love is so much more than that. Sometimes it is the only thing on earth that can save us. I know mine saved me.