I received a frantic call from a dear friend the other night. She was terrified and outraged at the same time. After all the tears and through all the reluctance and shame, she finally broke down and gave me the news. Her son is a pot addict.
Dwight’s troubles started in high school. He was never quite cut out for sports and maybe academics just wasn’t his thing. He worked hard from time to time, but seemed to get distracted so easily. A weekend could be wasted playing video games or locked in the basement with a grungy drum set. His junior year, he started avoiding Sunday supper. Neighbors would spy him in empty parking lots and outside abandoned buildings. He was there with an odd group of others. They wore dour clothes and had long hair and there was something menacing about their weary silence. Maybe they’re just throwing rocks at windows, some of us thought, that’s what the loners do at their age.
Dwight’s Mother perked up his senior year. He actually started to receive high marks. That helped her set aside the worries about his unkempt, bookish friends. Maybe he’s a homosexual? she often wondered. Yet it wasn’t long before a confused looking waif named Ruby started loitering at his side. She wore too much mascara and favored enormous hooded coats. There was a smell of fall leaves and guilt about her. That’s when Dwight’s mother first started to suspect he was using hard drugs. He had become so secretive and sarcastic. There were empty plastic bags in his pockets and a great number of cigarette lighters in his bedroom drawers. She prayed that this was only a phase, a rite of rebellion that every teen feels entitled to experience these days.
When our young man departed for college, Dwight’s mother was flushed with pride. He was the first member of her family to attend an out-of-state school, a very well respected institution in Wisconsin. From here in Tennessee, the drive takes a handful of hours but for Mother, it felt as if her son had flown a rocket to another planet.
All seemed to be going well and the boy was enrolled in a full slate of classes, though his schedule did seem to be a bit too biased towards “the arts.” The waif had even found another dour figure in town to lurk with in those parking lots, which brought a secret smile to Mother’s face. But maybe all this was but a mere illusion.
Two weeks ago, Dwight returned home for a visit. He looked mature and confident with that greasy duffle bag hanging from his broad shoulders. His hair was cut short which was nice, though Mother tried to ignore the small beard he had grown. He even gave Father a deep hug, which seemed to rather shock the old man. They had an expansive home cooked meal and all was more wonderful than it had been in years those warm evening hours together. As darkness settled in, the prodigal son bid them adieu and drove off with some friends into that weird, weary night.
Shock! A loud knock at the door and it was 3am. Mother and Father jumped from the bed to see a police cruiser idling in their driveway. Dwight emerged with a heavy shuffle and their old friend, a fellow member of their church, and yes, a Lieutenant in the town police department, walked their very son up the very steps.
“Sorry Ma’am,” the Lieutenant said, “but we caught Dwight in a car full of boys with the windows rolled up. There was marijuana. And there was loud music.”
“Not Dwight!” Mother screamed.
“We’re letting him off with a warning this time…”
“Oh Dwight! Oh Dwight!” Mother was inconsolable. She ran to her bathroom, her refuge, and was locked in there until dawn, until she had exhausted a lifetime’s worth of bitter, scalding tears.
And now the question becomes, what next?
Dwight departed for his college dorm the next day. He made apologies and then excuses and finally was simply defiant.
“Everyone does it! It’s not such a big deal! It’s no worse than the alcohol you and Dad drink!”
Yes, those of us who have counseled troubled teens have heard all the lies before. For Mother, this tale was poignantly tragic. You see, she has no other children. Dwight is her only, her precious only, and she had such hopes for him. Did she fail? Was she not loving and caring enough? Was Father too lax with the boy?
In the days that followed, so many questions were thrown about the family home, or rather what was left of it. For in Dwight’s brazen defiance, something of that beautiful notion of kinship and blood and security had been shattered. The evil reality of the drug world had broken down their front door.
Mother hangs her head low as she goes about her errands. Father prefers a back pew at church these days. It’s known that their son is now known by the police for his addiction. To feed his habit he has relied on criminals whose tentacles reach into the inner city ghettoes and out to the crime cartels and maybe even farther…
Does Dwight have a future? Or is college just a waste of money? The streets are a brutal place for the Dwights of this world. No matter how smart he thinks he is, the gangs and thugs of the big city are always plenty sharper. Rehabilitation or maybe jail, maybe homelessness? The possibilities are not encouraging. Some evenings Mother just wishes it were all a dream. Some evenings she closes her eyes and just wishes to have her sweet, innocent child back in her arms once again.
If you’re a boy who is tempted by pot, take a little time to think about Dwight. If this tragedy doesn’t stir anything at all in you, then consider poor Mother alone with tears. Is that truly any way for YOUR Mother to live out the end of her life?