Yesterday, I was walking with Rosie through the small field that runs along the rail tracks at the end of my mother’s road. It was late morning, the crickets were buzzing and the grass was alive with monarch butterflies.
Flitting in shivery circles, they loped about at mid-height, some pausing on the footpath, others parabola-ing off and away from one another like non-commital lovers. “11… 12!” cried Rosie. In the end, we counted 15.
The monarchs are on their way to Mexico, preparing for their great migration south, when they will fill the sky with their ecstatic, frenetic flight. Like them, Ben is on a frenetic path right now, his movements as circuitous and uncertain as an individual butterfly’s – the shaky flight, the indecisive wing-beats flicking him one way and then another.
But now – now – he is on the path to something more certain, like the millions of monarchs that have yet to take off. At 4:40 this morning, my friend Sarita rang me to ask whether she should drive down to Ben to take him to the detox centre. The centre had arranged for Ben to be admitted today, because Ben’s GP – the one who has been following his case for the last two years and who has made every effort for him (unlike the one Ben saw some days back) – faxed the referral form the centre needed to make the admission. Needless to say, our local drug and alcohol service were rather useless on that front.
I spoke to Ben this morning, before he left, and he sounded resigned. He hates that so much money is being spent on him because it forces him to be accountable for his actions. He is tied up in shame and guilt, but as everyone, including the detox centre manager, has told him, it’s time to accept the help he is being offered. It is time to accept it and assume the responsibility that comes with that acceptance.
The detox centre manager, Patrick, who has also made all kinds of effort to get Ben in, emailed me a few hours ago to say that Ben had been admitted and was safe. The centre will arrange Ben’s transfer to rehab in 10 days. Ben is now out of the flat and somewhere safe and I can now start my holiday.
I feel unaccountably sad. I now lie awake wondering what my next step will be. I have achieved the first thing I wanted, which was to get Ben out of the flat – for his sake, for Rosie’s and mine. But there are many more steps for me, too.
And so, there will be many more nights of wondering, fear and hope, before I, too, take off. We are all on our individual migrations – taking flight to that place of safety where we can feed and grow a new life for ourselves and those we love.