They Will Release Him Tomorrow

But I’m not sure he’s ready to go home

Patsy Fergusson
Dec 24, 2020 · 4 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Susan Gold on Unsplash

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 of the good stuff, follow Fourth Wave, where we’re changing the world for the better, one story at a time. Got one of your own? Submit to the Wave!

For more by this author, try:

For fiction, try:

I

Fourth Wave

Changing the world for the better, one story at a time

Sign up for On the Crest

By Fourth Wave

This is the newsletter for Fourth Wave, with stories about women and other disempowered groups. Meet our community of intersectional feminists. Sent out when the spirit moves, about 4X a year. Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Patsy Fergusson

Written by

Tree hugger. Tour guide. Top Writer. Feminist. Newly-baptized Bay swimmer. Editor of Fourth Wave. https://medium.com/fourth-wave

Fourth Wave

Changing the world for the better, one story at a time, with a focus on women and other disempowered groups

Patsy Fergusson

Written by

Tree hugger. Tour guide. Top Writer. Feminist. Newly-baptized Bay swimmer. Editor of Fourth Wave. https://medium.com/fourth-wave

Fourth Wave

Changing the world for the better, one story at a time, with a focus on women and other disempowered groups

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store