We were off to a good start. The kids were sleeping in their car seats and I fell asleep, too, which I realized when I awoke to the sensation of my husband pulling the car off the highway. It was dark and there was nothing around. No street lights or gas stations ahead. Just a tunnel vision of our headlights beaming forward and the flashing lights of a police car behind us.
We were headed to Austin to visit my sister and her family. Michael and I purposefully chose to drive at night so that traffic would be lighter and it would be an easy trip for the kids. A bit groggy, I asked what was going on, but I knew in my gut. Immediately, I asked about the warrant for unpaid speeding tickets. He gruffly confirmed my fear...he had not paid them. Shit. He could go to jail for this.
“Step out of the car, sir.”
Diego, our six year-old son, was awake by then. Not only was this totally fucked that my son watched his dad get arrested, but now there we were in some random Texas city in the middle of the night.
My number one priority at that moment was to get us home safely and tuck my babies in their beds. I turned the car around and drove home in the darkness, assuring Diego that Daddy just needed to handle some paperwork with the police. I knew calling my sister was inevitable. I had to tell the truth, awkward as that was going to be. This was too crazy and it wasn’t my crazy.
Disappointment and frustration mixed with my increasing rage, but I had no sense of dread. I was just really tired. I would deal with everything in the morning. Finally arriving home after 1:00 a.m, I carried each child to their bed and left the car packed with our bags. I went to sleep.
Many years of practice allowed me this gift. In the beginning of our relationship when things went “wrong,” I would have been up all night. Worrying. Crying. Strategizing. Now, I had two little ones depending on me and I needed to function. I don’t remember any dreams from that night. That’s often a great relief. Sleep is good.
Over coffee and a cigarette the next morning, I called the small town police department for details on Michael's bond and release information. The officer confirmed that he was in jail and the charges were: a warrant for speeding tickets and having a controlled substance in a police facility.
I immediately assumed it had to be pot. He had a history with that. What the hell!? I hung up the phone and thought screw that...he can figure out how to get out of there on his own.
I knew the best thing to do was to keep busy and maintain a schedule. So, I scooped up the kids and headed out. Lunch would be followed by a long nap for all of us. After I clicked two year-old Gabi into her car seat, I opened the driver’s door and something in the side pocket caught the light and my eye. A clear glass pipe. I picked it up thinking I knew what it was...a marijuana pipe. Upon further inspection, I realized that this wasn't for pot. It had a milky white substance inside of it.
Crack pipe? I’d never seen one, but could only wonder. I hid it in the garage and took the kids to lunch. All I could think about was that I drove for more than two hours last night with my children sleeping in the car and a crack pipe. What if I had been pulled over? What then?
We returned home and I got the kids down for a nap. I couldn’t sleep. I went to the garage and pulled out the pipe. I called Michael's friend's girlfriend. Her response, although cryptic, said it all. "Oh Aimee, I have wanted to tell you but..." I pressed and she spilled. Michael and his friend had been smoking meth together.
This is my awakening...into a nightmare. It was the beginning of the end. If I only knew then what I know now, as the saying goes. The compassion I feel for that woman (ME!) all those years ago is ginormous.
Join me on this journey into the events that unfolded and how I ended up here today as a Grief Guide and Wayfinder.
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*Photo credit: Danielle Macinnes