I was sitting on my bed, in my room, admiring the calming blue we had just painted it. The color before it was yellow. Not the nice, soothing yellow of a sunny day or a buttercup blowing in a spring breeze. It was the shocking, eye-ball burning yellow of mustard. Like, French’s mustard was lathered on the wall and dried. Then shellacked. And sealed. With high gloss. You get the point. The blue we picked to replace it is called Meditation Blue. And it fits the name. It is the pale blue of the sky. The sky you can only see while resting on a beach. The room is so inviting, and relaxing, which really says a lot considering my days have been anything but lately. Unfortunately, I still have shocking or devastating news or situations that occur routinely that no amount of paint can shield me from, but on this particular night, I was sitting on my bed, looking out the window (which should have been an indication that something was wrong because I rarely have the shade up until I am out of bed and dressed) when the phone rang. Our home phone is a symphony that plays on and on and eventually gets annoying.
I fumbled around for the cordless phone, and found it under a pile of books on my night stand. When I answered it, before I could say hello, I heard sobbing. I knew it was JoDee. I knew it was bad. Worse than anything we had experienced before. My blood ran cold, my heart stopped beating, I gripped the phone so tightly, and I lost feeling in my hand. Come now Mom, I killed someone, was all I heard. What? Killed someone? I must have not heard her right. She said she was hiding. I had to find her. I asked how I will find you. She told me a good mother will know, and hung up. The caller ID said UNKNOWN. I tried her cell phone but a recording told me the number was disconnected. I jumped out of bed, threw on sweatpants and ran out the door. I was driving but I had no idea where to go. I didn’t even know if she was in Massachusetts. I tried thinking about where she was last. I started heading toward where she was staying at the sober house in Salem. As I drove past Sunnyside Bowling I thought about when I had her birthday party there when she was 7, and she was afraid to bowl without the bumpers. She was afraid to go up to the line and asked me to go up to bowl with her. As we walked up, I was carrying her bowling ball, she put her hand in mine and squeezed. That meant she felt safe. She felt protected. She could concur this as long as I was with her. I didn’t know what I was heading into but I wasn’t even sure I could help her this time.
As I came around the corner from Peabody into Salem, there is a large cemetery on the left. It was dark, but I could see a figure moving at the entrance of the gate. I slammed on my breaks, causing everything to fly forward, including probably two years’ worth of McDonald happy meals toys that had been hiding under my seat, squealing my tires as I drove into the cemetery. I could see JoDee standing a few feet from me. I stopped to get out of my car. She was covered in blood. Are you hurt? What happened but she ran as soon as I took a step toward her. I started yelling for to wait or stop but she kept going and I was worried about people hearing me screaming and call the police. I didn’t even know what JoDee had done yet. She had disappeared over a hill. Running after her, in the direction she went, I was tripping over head stones, tree limbs and stones. My flip-flops were holding me back so I kicked them off and gained speed. As I came over the hill that I saw her go down, I stopped to get a better look. It was pitch black. I tried calling out her name in a half yell/half whisper. You know the kind of thing a parent does when they want to get their kid’s attention but no one else’s? Nothing. I could only hear a soft sniffling sound. She was out there crying somewhere. I walked in the general direction of the sound of sniffling, but it was so dark, I couldn’t see. I felt like I was walking into some unknown evil, but the fear of JoDee being hurt trumps any thoughts of going back.
When I reached a stone wall, I climbed over it. The grass was cool and damp under my feet. For a fleeting moment I thought about her first day of kindergarten. She was all dressed up in a blue running suit with a white stripe down the side. Her hair, freshly cut in a bob, was hanging loose around her face. As she headed out the front door and down the lawn, I noticed her little sneaker prints in the dew of the grass. The blade of grass was momentarily pushed down and slowly bounced back. I remember thinking how ironic that footprint faded quickly on the lawn, but lasted a life time in my heart. The sound of low moan brought me back to the present. For a second I forgot where I was. Frantically looking around, I saw JoDee in the distance, staring at a headstone. The ground opened, a big hole with dirt surrounding it. She was looking down. As I got closer, my stomach began to clench, I started to sweat. I didn’t know what I would see. I wasn’t sure I wanted too? What have you done, I asked her. What is in there? But she wouldn’t answer me. I killed someone, she said. I killed someone you love. I got closer and closer, and all I could see was a head stone but I couldn’t make out the words. They looked familiar to me. My brain wouldn’t let me focus on them. When I got close to her, I could see blood running from the track marks in both arms. Her face was gaunt and pale. Her eyes were color-less, a steel-blue that made me want to be sick. I reached my arm out to touch her and she took a step toward me but directly into the hole she fell, silently. I yelled, and screamed, and dropped to my knees; try to stretch my arm out to grab her, without falling in. I called her name over and over, but there was nothing but silence.
I put my face in the dirt, crying and crying. At some point I noticed the dirt smelled like grass. I opened my eyes, my face still in the ground and realized it was day light. I lifted my head, and the hole was gone, covered by smooth, lush green grass. My eyes began to focus on the headstone in front of me. I realized then what she was telling me. She was dead. The headstone was hers. I felt myself start to faint. And then I woke up. Gasping for breath, pulling at the sheets, AC was shaking me awake. I pushing him away, fighting to get out of bed, panicked. It takes a full minute to realize it isn’t real. I stop fighting him and sit on the edge of my bed with the calming blue paint, and think to myself, this happens when the parent of an addict finally falls asleep.