I would have smiled. If you had asked me two weeks ago how Christie was doing, I would have smiled and told you how proud I was of her. It had been a long four weeks since Christie first showed up at my door. Tweeking. Strung out. Thin as a rail. A meth addict. Without her children. And with no place to go. Asking that I help her. But Christie was doing so much better. And I was so very proud of her.
Christie is family. She is my niece. I have loved her since the moment I first laid eyes on her, and nothing will ever change the love I have for her. Absolutely nothing. She is precious to me. Helping her was not an option. At least, not for me.
If you had asked me two weeks ago if it had been easy. I would have told you no. In fact, the last four weeks had been hard. Very hard. I took away Christie’s phone the first night she arrived, along with her car keys and most of her personal belongings. But I didn’t have to force her. Christie readily relinquished everything to me. She wanted to get better. She wanted to be free of the demon that had taken hold of her. The demon of meth addiction. She wanted her life back. She wanted her children back.
Christie pretty much just slept and ate that first week. But that was good. She was exhausted. She had been on a long downward spiral of drugs, very little sleep and inadequate food. Her body needed time to heal. Her mind needed time to heal. I believe her very soul needed time to heal.
Christie seemed more like her old self that second week, and things seemed a little better. There was laughter. And silliness. And late night talks. There were tears as well, but that was to be expected. It had been a long painful road to get to where she now found herself, and with that came a lot of guilt and remorse. But plans were being made for the future. For Christie’s future. For her children’s future. And we were all so hopeful.
If you had asked me two weeks ago if I thought Christie was going to be able to beat her addiction, I would have said yes. Christie, Taylor Belle and Mason had all just been baptized that evening. Three cousins being baptized together at the river. I thanked God, and felt so blessed.
Christie had started working at a job that she really enjoyed. She had been nervous when she first started, but had been working for a week at that point and was doing well. She liked it. She felt important. Like she was good at something.
We had been able to spend some time with Christie’s children the week before, and it couldn’t have gone better. Christie was worried that her little girl wouldn’t remember her. Grace is only thirteen months old and hadn’t seen Christie in several months. But all of Christie’s worries quickly vanished when Grace grabbed ahold of her and would barely let go the whole time we were there. I’m not sure who needed it more, Christie or Grace. Everyone was happy, there were smiles galore, and plans were made for another visit.
If you had asked me two weeks ago if I was worried that Christie would start craving her old lifestyle, I would have said yes. It was constantly in the back of my mind. That she would get lonely for the man she had left to come stay with me. That she would forget how bad it was and what she had been through to get to where she was now. That she would simply get restless and bored. But even though I knew there was always that chance, the unflinching optimist in me didn’t think it would happen. If Christie started feeling that way, I could talk to her and make everything all better. Or so I thought.
If you had asked me two weeks ago how I felt, I would have said happy. So proud. So hopeful. Christie and my two younger children had just been baptized hours before. Things were going so well. I thanked God. And went to bed with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.
And I woke up the next morning. And Christie was gone.
Just like that. No warning. Absolutely no warning at all. All of Christie’s stuff was still here. The pictures of her two little children on her bedroom wall and on our refrigerator. Her journal. All of her clothes. The pair of boots that she loves wearing. Her jewelry. Her Bible and the Joyce Meyers book she was reading. The only thing missing ….. was Christie.
I spent the morning hoping that she would be at work when I got there. That she had just left earlier than usual for work, and that I would walk into the dining hall bakery to find her already up to her elbows in flour or pizza dough. But she wasn’t there.
If you had asked me one week ago what I was doing about Christie, I would have said that I didn’t really know what to do. I sent an email to an address that Christie’s mother thinks she still uses. There was no reason to believe that Christie would ever even see the email, but I had to try. I told Christie that if she thinks she fucked up by leaving in the middle of the night, without a word, and not showing up to her job, she’s right. She did. It was a big fuck up. Huge. But I went on to say that if she thinks it can’t be fixed, she’s wrong. Completely wrong. It’s fixable. This is not a one shot and you’re out kind of deal here at my house. I probably fuck up at least once a day. And yet I’m still here. All we can do is the best we can at that very moment. And then try again the next day. I told her that this is her home. This is where she is loved. This is where she can get her life back together. We will help. We want to help. She is part of us.
If you asked me tonight if I have heard anything from Christie, I would have to tell you no. Not one word.
And if you asked me tonight if I’ve given up hope, I would smile and tell you no. I haven’t given up hope. For giving up hope would be giving up on Christie. And that’s not going to happen. We all make mistakes. As long as no one has died, it’s always fixable. I’m just going to keep loving Christie. And praying for Christie. And will welcome her back with open arms if I ever get that chance.
And we will start again. Doing the best we can at that very moment.