The Phone Call

“Court is coming up. Court is coming up. Court is coming up. “

There is never a moment where this refrain isn’t beating in my brain. Sometimes, its a light pulse, a bare thump. A small feeling of sadness that cannot be satiated.. Sometimes it is like the beginning of an isolated headache. Not enough to cover your whole head, but a bright spot of pain that stops short of being debilitating. A pain you have to press your hands against. The throb of anxiety. The stab of fear. And sometimes the refrain is a whole body roar. That feeling of ocean waves crashing in your ears. A repetitive punch in the gut. A ripping and tearing feeling in your heart.

He is in lock back now. One hour out 24 in a cage every day. A phone call and shower every other day. When he calls, I can hear the desperation sliding through his voice through carefully concealed and tightly gripped niceties. Within the second sentence he is beginning to breathe, slowly and steadily.

There is never a time that I don’t physically feel his relief that I am still there to answer his call. That I still care. That I still love him. That I have not thrown my hands up and left him to rot.

I soothe him with the foolishness and follies of the world outside. Precious time is ticking, but I plunge forward, pulling him back into the world he feels has left him behind. reminding him that he still exists. Gradually, I can sense the madness of isolation release it’s grip. He is beginning to feel restored. I repeat my mantra of love affirmations to him. I tell him that I am proud he is my son. I tell him that he matters not just to me but to the world. He still has a place and he still has something to do.

We settle into an easy rhythm. He begins to excitedly tell me something that he has seen or heard and he is cut off by the phone announcing “You have one minute left.” We sigh and he picks up the pace of his chatter.  “You have 30 seconds left.” We begin our barrage of I love you’s and take cares and hold your head up. We refuse to hang up because every second matters.  Ultimately we will hear nothing. Click.

I sit heavily on the side of the bed. Cataloging his responses, assessing his mental state, worrying if he has gotten better about hiding his depression. Fearful that he may opt to simply end his life. He returns to his cell, alone again. The staccato thrum resumes in my head. Soon we will arrive at the crescendo. But for now, we count down the hours and minutes until the next phone call.

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