It has been one week and eight hours since Mike was released from jail. Over the past few days I have been in contact with him about once a day, usually to provide transportation for him to work. Our conversations have been brief and factual. Today, as I type these words, he is meeting with his parole officer. His meeting began at 1:30, he told me he would be finished in fifteen minutes; it is now 2:45, so I am wondering if perhaps something has gone awry. If I don't receive a telephone call from him soon, I will begin checking the county jail custody list to see if he appears there.
It's a strange thing to parent an adult child who has spent more time since reaching the age of majority incarcerated than not. While others his age are completing their first or second year of college, our son is still trying to complete high school. Other kids his age are dealing with difficult roommates or challenges in their schedule, while our son is simply trying to stay out jail, hold down a part-time job and retain housing. As I blogged earlier, I have learned how to view Mike's situation differently than I would have even two years ago. Then I still had some typical expectations for his life. I no longer live under the illusion that Mike's life will ever be ordinary.
By Thursday of last week (his fourth day out of jail) he had already been involved in an altercation that resulted in numerous scrapes (a number quite deep) on one of his hands and shoulders. The story is that he was helping to protect a friend who was being threatened by someone else with a knife, and in the process he was shoved to the ground and his left arm and hand ground into the gravel and pavement beneath him. I saw him a day or so after the altercation and his hand did, indeed, look quite nasty. In addition he was kicked in the head a couple of times, resulting in a bruised temple and cheek.
So today, on the way to his parole officer meeting, he pulled off a bandage and said, "Do you think I need to see a doctor?" On one of the fingers was a skinless gash, oval in shape and probably an inch in diameter. The top layer of flesh was gone and what was left bore the tell-tale signs of too much coverage and not enough light or oxygen to promote healing qualities. "I think," I said, "that you need to make sure you keep it clean and that you allow it to have some air." "Oh," he murmured as he pulled off the other three bandages on other appendages. "S***" he cursed. "Is that my bone?" He peered more closely and said, "Yeah, that's my bone."
Fortunately I was driving so I didn't have to look. There are reasons why I am an ordained minister and not a medical professional.
Up until today's meeting Mike has had what I would consider, for him, a successful seven-day run. He has not been arrested, he has worked, he has stayed in the same location for housing, he has made both PO meetings to date, he has met with the county mental health social worker to investigate service options.
The first seven days have been good ones for Mike. It's the last eight hours I wonder about.