They Will Release Him Tomorrow
A social worker called to say they’re letting him out tomorrow, Christmas Eve.
I’ve been to his apartment and cleaned up the unholy mess. Crazy things like a tube of Arnica broken open in the blender along with half a smoothie, all wrapped in a bag and put on the bookshelf; little bits of black dirt and popcorn all over the carpet; a pack of cigarettes, a pack of cards, and an avocado pit in the toilet. I stuck my hand through the urine to fish them out.
I took all his bedding and his clothes to the laundromat and cleaned them, too, because they said he had “hysterical Covid.” They thought maybe that’s what had brought the symptoms on. Maybe. But that’s not what we thought.
They said they would probably keep him two weeks, but now they’re letting him out early and I’m sad because he hasn’t called.
I’m sad because I thought I’d have more time — to replace the little flame-shaped lighbulbs in the entryway of his apartment; to put the little night light that changes colors in the kitchen. I’m sad because I thought he’d have more time to get better, better enough to call.
The social worker said he’s releasing him tomorrow but there’s a problem because he doesn’t have the key to his apartment and he doesn’t have his phone. “He said maybe his brother sold his phone.”
I scoffed. “That’s an indication that he’s not doing well. Why are you letting him go now?”
“Because he’s ready and we need to treat other patients.”
Not a problem that he’s still infectious. Not a problem that his care team’s office is closed for two weeks for the holidays. Not a problem that he couldn’t remember his phone number. Not a problem that he thinks his brother might steal and sell his phone. Not a problem that he hasn’t called his mother — the one person who still answers his calls.
I read an article once about a man who had schizophrenia who got a very high fever and when it went away, so did his disease. I guess that’s not going to happen to my son, though.
He may be mad because we called the police to help us get him into the hospital, his brother and I. It’s always scary to do that. You don’t know how it will go. But it went pretty well. He ran up and tried to punch his brother in front of the officers, so they put him in the back of the car. They didn’t say “no, he’s not crazy enough, we won’t help you get him into the hospital.” They didn’t hurt him. They didn’t take him to jail. It was a good outcome. And now, just a week after he was running amok and wrecking havoc, out he comes.
I know he’s better, because one nurse called him “a sweetheart” when I called to inquire how he was doing. I know he’s better, because they’re letting him go. But I don’t know if he’s better enough.
After cleaning his apartment and doing his laundry, I went back to make some repairs. I used a screwdriver and packing tape to fix the vertical blinds where they fell off the holder when you tried to open or close them. I cut and sewed his duvet cover so it fit his duvet.
Sitting at his kitchen table, running my old sewing machine in his empty apartment, it was peaceful and lovely. The sun came through the big sliding glass doors and fell on the clean carpet. The train went by. A friendly neighbor stopped by to ask about my son. I could imagine living there. I could imagine having a good and comfortable life there.
I hope that one day he can imagine that, too.
Tomorrow morning I’ll get up early to drive the phone and the keys down to the hospital where I’ll give them to the social worker in the parking lot. Around lunchtime, my daughter is coming over with her family to exchange gifts. It takes about an hour to get to the hospital. But I’ll get up a wee bit earlier so I have time to swing by his apartment and put in those flame-shaped bulbs.
For more by this author, try:
The Story of My Abortion
Or how I came to fall in love with my husband and start our family on solid ground
For fiction, try: