Matt, bringing you home was a mixed bag of emotions.   On the one hand,  I was so glad to leave the hospital.  I spent enough time there when you weren’t a patient.  On the other hand,  I lost the watchful eyes of  the nurses who became my angels  when I needed a break.  Now it was just you and me, the usual suspects playing the game we both hated to play.  

I remember driving so carefully, watching your face for any sign of discomfort.  avoiding every sped bump and pot hole.  I was driving like someone I would  blow my horn at and give that WTF look.   I wanted to wrap you in a plastic bubble, keeping you safe from the bumps and bruises that life had thrown your way.   Those were the longest twenty minutes of my life.  Getting you out of the car and into the house was another activity that had me holding my breath as I watched you shuffle like an old man into the house and settle into the recliner I placed in your favorite spot.   You seemed happy to be home, you hated hospitals and the restrictions placed on your pain medication.   Now you were free to make the choice.  Keep your pain manageable or self medicate and eliminate the pain completely.   I went over the plan with you as you scowled at me, “Mom, you didn’t have back surgery, you don’t know how bad this hurts.  I have rods and screws living in my body and I’m not going to suffer everyday feeling like I do now.”   No Matt, you’re not going to suffer, but you’re not going to start abusing narcotics again.  We will work together and find a happy medium to keep you comfortable.  Pain is to be expected, pain means you are alive.  Well, if looks could kill I would have dropped like a deer hit dead on.   Here we go again I thought.  The demons trying to get control again and me gearing up for the battle.

To your horror and surprise, I took the week off.  What a shock when you woke to find me in the kitchen making coffee.  Hey Mom, why aren’t you in scrubs.  Your eyes boring into mine, the look I’ve seen a thousand times when I interfered with your plans.   Well Matt, I’m here to get you through this first week.   To make sure all the follow up appointments are kept.   Physical therapy will be here with your brace and to show you strengthening exercises.   A nurse is coming to see how you’re doing and the Mom police are keeping the demons at bay.   

Ok Matt,  I expect you to behave and not give anyone a hard time.  We are all here to help you and I’m not putting up with your crap this week.  Let’s just get it all out there.  I have your Percs, and I will control how many you get.  I won’t let you hurt, your pain will be tolerable, but I will not allow you to over do these drugs again.  Yeah, sure Mom.

Talk about the week from hell.  I don’t know who hated the other more.  Me trying to be patient with your needs and you being the patient every nurse would tie up and leave in the utility room.   We played our old familiar game except it was reversed.  This time I was the one hiding and you were the one seeking.   Looking back I remember liking this version of our game.  In a sick way it gave me a chuckle seeing you being me.  Memories of hiding presents from you as a kid would flood my mind.  Boy, things were so much easier before the demons entered our lives.

The week ended, we were still talking.  You seemed stronger everyday.  I still had your percs.  Hey Mom, Don’t you go back to work Monday.  You could barely hide your happiness.  Yup Matt,  I do.  Your Grandmother will be here to keep an eye on you.  Your happiness melted off your face like butter on hot corn.  Mom, are you crazy.  I’m not having Mom mom watch me like I’m a little kid.   Oh yeah you are.  I’m not dumb, we’ve both been here before and I’ll be damned if I’m going back.  

Work was calm compared to the havoc you were causing with me gone.  Your poor grandmother.  My shift continued as did the phone calls from home.   Matt,  dear God, give us a break.   She’s doing what I told her to do.  No she does not have your Percocet I do.   That’s right, they are safe with me, and you are safe at home.   She gave you what I left her and you will get a grip and stop acting like an addict.   Holy shit, silence.  Matt, I’m sorry.  You just make me crazy.

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I hung up feeling like I just shouted the four letter word in church.  Did I really call Matt an addict.  Oh God, my fear is getting control over my mouth.  He’s not an addict, I’m just overprotective.   The demons were laughing as I tried to ignore the feeling of doom building in my heart.

My mind was racing on the drive home.  How to repair the damage done.  Lisa, I’ll invite Lisa to come for the weekend.  Anything to bring some joy back to Matt’s life.  Ok, now it was my time to suck it up.  Lisa and I still uncomfortable together.  Well, I thought I can do anything for 48 Hours.

Lisa arrived while you were in the shower.  Bags of all your favorite foods in hand.  I must admit I was happy to have someone else in the house and gave her a welcoming hug.   The look on your face let me know she was the best medicine any doctor could have ordered.  I decided to give you privacy and really used the time to just take a much needed break from all the chaos that seemed to always find a way into our lives.   

I opened the door to laughter and music.  Sounds so needed in our lives.  I felt light and happy.  Your eyes letting me know that all is forgiven.   I slept well that night feeling like we were finally getting a handle on life.   Hoping that maybe just maybe things would return to a normal rhythm that we both so desperately needed.

They say time flies when you’re having fun and before we blinked our eyes it was time for Lisa to leave.  Heading back to the beach, a place you loved and missed so much.  Hugs and promises to return she waved goodbye and you and I tried to stay in that happy place that  found its way into our hearts.   

 Monday came and I felt comfortable enough to leave you alone as I returned to a different chaos of being a nurse and caring for someone other than you.  I left your doses of percs minus one, starting the weaning process we agreed upon.   Calling you several times just to allow my mind the peace of knowing you were ok.   Checking for those signs I’ve come to know and hate.  The changes in your speech, the words you chose to say.  My ears still trained to hear the demons at work in your body.  As the week passed, I foolishly let myself think we had passed the danger zone, leaving the pills hidden in my closet, not realizing I was living with a fox.   Sly and quiet you let me think what I needed to in order to survive life as I needed it to be.   

Friday night coming home with a pizza in hand, opening the door to absolute quiet.  Matt, hey Matt.  The dogs looking at me with pity.  I ran to your room.  Tears forming in my eyes, my heart knowing you were gone.   I ran to my closet.  Thinking you would never violate my privacy.  How wrong I was.  My Hiding place, not so clever after all.  Your bottle gone, you gone, my heart broken.  The demons laughing.