Today I remember 9-11. I plan to write more about that day another time, but for now, I want to thank the firefighters, police, EMTs, and other emergency workers who made sacrifices that day (and everyday). I want to thank the men and women in the military who continue to fight to keep us free. 9-11 is a day we will never forget.
The drive home from the courthouse seemed long. I called my mom to tell her the order was granted. She said she was going to leave the house with Lauren so I could talk to Mike.
I went into the basement as soon as I got home. His parents were standing next to the couch where Mike was laying. I hadn’t been down there in several days. It was nasty. The room was dark and smelled awful. Garbage was everywhere – plates of dried food, crumpled paper, wrinkled bedding, empty alcohol bottles. The inflatable mattress where his parents had been sleeping was leaning against the wall; the fitted sheet falling off of it. The only light was coming from the TV flickers.
“Mike, I was at the courthouse this morning,” I said. No response. “The judge granted an order of protection, and a sheriff will be serving you the papers in the next 24 hours. I’m giving you the chance to leave with dignity. Get your stuff and get out before Ethan gets home from school.”
He raised his head, “You did WHAT? You fucking bitch! I’m not going anywhere!” Then he collapsed back into the couch, covering his face with a pillow.
I repeated myself and there was no response. Mike’s dad gestured for me to follow him upstairs.
Mike’s parents and I went into the family room. They sat on the couch opposite my chair. “Jackie,” Mike’s mom began. “He needs to go to the hospital.”
“OK,” I said. “Did he tell you that?”
“No,” she said. “We’ve told him that’s what he needs, but he refuses. I think he needs an ambulance.”
“Great,” I said, handing her the house phone. “Call 911.”
“Oh no,” Mike’s dad said. “We can’t do that. YOU need to do it.”
I argued with them for a few minutes about who should dial 9-1-1. I went back downstairs to look at Mike one more time. I kicked the couch in frustration and anger. He probably did need medical attention. It was obvious that even though his mom and dad had been with him in the basement (one of them had been at his side for DAYS), he had continued to drink. They had been unsuccessful at getting him to eat or drink, except for half an apple and a small glass of water an hour before I got home from the courthouse. Basically, Mike had gone almost a week with virtually no food or non-alcoholic drinks.
I dialed the phone and explained the situation to the dispatcher. An ambulance was on its way.
About five minutes later, the EMTs were at the house. I directed them downstairs. One stayed upstairs to ask me some questions. “When and what did he eat last?” he asked.
“Well, Mike’s parents would probably be the best source for anything relating to what’s happened in the last few days,” I said, looking around for them. They were not in the kitchen. They were not in the living room or family room or basement or bathrooms or upstairs or garage. They were gone.
“Just a minute,” I told the EMT as I dialed Mike’s mom’s cell phone. She picked up after about five rings.
“What?” she said.
“Hey, um, where the hell are you?” I asked, trying to keep my tone light. I was panicked and pissed at them.
“What the hell? Where are you? You made me call the ambulance then you BAIL?”
“We’re just around the corner, watching from our car. We’re going back to Indiana when the ambulance takes him,” she said.
“Yeah, couple of things. The EMTs have very specific questions that I can’t answer because I haven’t been with him lately – YOU HAVE. They need you to answer questions about what he’s eaten and drank and what he’s been doing. And two, Mike can’t stay here anymore. I have a court order that ORDERS him out of my house. You need to take him with you.”
They came back to the house and answered the questions. In the meantime, the local police arrived (as is policy when the ambulance is called, apparently). I explained the situation, including having just come from court, to a very nice policewoman.
“You have a copy of the order?” she asked. I handed it over. “We’re not waiting for the sheriff to arrive. I want to serve this,” she said and made a call to the chief of police for the proper paperwork to transfer the power from the county sheriff to her.
The EMTs checked Mike out and argued with him for almost an hour. I was told to stay upstairs, so I could only hear when voices were raised or there was some sort of ruckus coming from the basement.
Mike’s parents stood in a corner of the kitchen. Not moving, not doing much of anything except repeating “we can’t take him” and “where do you expect him to go?” to anyone who would listen. Finally, the EMTs brought Mike upstairs on a stretcher.
His eyes were closed. He was curled up in the fetal position. He looked pathetic, sad. He never opened his eyes or said anything as the EMTs took him outside.
I looked through the front window as they were loading the stretcher. The female officer approached Mike. I saw her mouth move, but couldn’t hear the words. Then she set some papers on his chest – the court order. He was served – he wouldn’t be able to come back to the house or even talk to me or the kids until the next court date. I started to cry, but not tears of sadness – these were tears of “I did the right thing.”
To be continued…