Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Story of Deliverance - Part III

Kevin has posted Chapter 3 of his story here on his wife's blog. Please go over and read his part first, then come back and read my point of view. This journey we are on has been phenomenal. As I have mentioned before, much of it I did not know. I have cried many tears as I have read his words. At the same time, it has been cathartic. He has learned things he didn't know about his dad and me and what we were going through when he couldn't have cared less.

The purpose of airing this in cyberspace is with the hope and prayer that someone somewhere will see hope, and see that Jesus is the answer, and the only answer, to freedom from addiction of any sort. God makes no mistakes. God is the God of second chances. God is in control. God is the redeemer of horrible circumstances. All good truths. All hung onto for dear life. All questioned at times. But we know it's true - God is Good, All the Time! He kept us and sustained us and brought victory where there appeared to be very little hope.

As I mentioned in Part II, we thought junior high went pretty well. Kev had some really good teachers, one in particular, who cared about him and mentored him. It was at this time in his life that the wisdom of the school district in our town took a leave of absence. They decided in April to make huge changes in the educational system of our children - two months before school was out that year, they decided that 9th graders would go to high school and 6th graders would go to middle school. This caused great turbulence for both of my children, but Kev's turned out to be a better situation than Kristen's, because they were renovating his old school building, so there were only two grades for the two years he was there. But when he hit 9th grade and high school, it was not a good thing.

The rule was that 9th graders could not leave the building for lunch, but everyone else could. However, there was nobody at the door checking identification! They came and went as they pleased. Ever since those turbulent high school years, I have been on a soap box about open campus and block scheduling. They were allowed to leave if they didn't have a class, in fact were not really allowed to stay unless they went to the library. At least that is what I was told - who knows if it was true?! The scheduling was really detrimental to someone like Kevin, who took every freedom WAY beyond its original intention. It was at this point, from what I can tell, that he began hanging out with older guys who had cars and were willing to take a 9th grader out to lunch with them - usually not to return.

I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and very happily so. When I did go to work, it was only 3 hours a day in the school district, so I was always home when the kids were. Then I took a job in a middle school, and was still home at the end of their school day and for all vacations. It was the summer after Kristen's graduation, between Kevin's sophomore and junior years, when college expenses were looming, that we decided we needed more income and that the kids were old enough to be at home alone. I'm not sure my being at home would have made a bit of difference, but I have often wondered.

Kev was to find a summer job. He did not. Yet he always had evidence of fast food dining in his car. I wondered who was footing the bills, but no good answers were forthcoming when we asked. I didn't give him any money, which was supposed to force him into the working world. It wasn't until much later that we discovered where the money was coming from.

I remember as if it were yesterday the call I got from the police or the Safeway manager about the cigarette theft. I was new at my job and I remember yelling into the phone, "He did WHAT??" I forgot where I was. Of course, the story I got was that Tony had stolen the cigarettes, that he himself didn't smoke, and that they had thrown them into the lagoon across the street from school.

A really bad memory is the middle-of-the-night call we got from the police that our car (the one we let Kevin drive) was at the scene of a large under-age drinking party, way out in the country. We got up, dressed, and headed for the scene. There were many cars along this road in a new subdivision. We waited for hours in the dark, tortured, wondering where in the world he was. Apparently, they all scattered through the fields behind the house when the police arrived. We knew he'd have to come back for the car sooner or later. As testament to his sneakiness, suddenly the car was no longer there and we hadn't seen it leave. Turns out the young girl's parents were out of town and she took full advantage of the situation to have one of those famous parties that t.v. shows use as a story line - sometimes trying to make it humorous, when in reality it's anything but.

Brandon - the name conjures up sick feelings in my stomach. I never saw the good qualities Kevin mentioned. I only saw a huge, devious, lying, sneaky guy who was aiding and abetting my son's downward spiral. He seemingly had no conscience. When we confronted him and his parents, they were no help whatsoever. We lost so much money that year. We were foolish and trusting and had money in drawers. Over $200 disappeared from my purse one day. One day he came and "borrowed" Dwight's golf clubs from our garage, driving a car from his job that he wasn't supposed to be driving, during his work day. I'll never forget the day we came home and found huge footprints leading to our back door in the snow. We also foolishly left our back door to the garage unlocked in those days. There were wet places on the carpet up to Kev's room, and his gallon jug full of coins was gone. He mentioned losing money from his apartment and finally feeling what it was like to be the victim of theft.

The scam with the bank and the foster mom's checkbook comes as a shock to me. I also remember clearly the day the two detectives showed up at our house to question Kevin about it. I truly believed he was the innocent victim.

The day that our head-in-the-sand or, at the very least, naive lifestyle came to a screeching halt was the day after Thanksgiving. Kristen was home for the holiday and was flying back to school on Saturday. It was our tradition to put up our Christmas tree that Friday. I have to say that, no matter how far Kev got from us emotionally and spiritually, he was very tied to our traditions and wanted everything done as it had always been done. He wasn't home much, but he wanted to be there for the traditions. I believe that had a lot to do with his not leaving for good and never coming back to us.

The phone rang as I was cleaning up from dinner, looking forward to our traditional holiday evening. Little did I know that the voice at the other end of the line was going to cause our world to come crashing down on our heads. It was a woman police officer saying that Kevin needed to come down to the station for questioning. When I told her what was going on, and that Kristen was leaving the next day, she actually let us bring him in the next evening. Kev fell asleep on the way home from the airport. I distinctly remember looking back at him sleeping on the back seat. He looked so innocent that I cried to think that it was all just an illusion. His innocence was long gone. And we didn't know how far gone it was. We urged him to go with us to the airport that day, knowing that if he knew about the police interview, he'd take off and we'd never know where he was. When he woke up, we were at the station. What an absolutely horrid experience to watch your son being fingerprinted. The officer had him sit between us, across the desk from her, as she questioned him. He denied everything at first, but eventually the truth came out that he and his friend (I thought it was Brandon) had broken into a friend's house and stolen several hundred dollars. The immersion into the legal system that day was one I never dreamed we'd enter. We still believed a lot of what he said, and we spent a lot of money on legal counsel.

Kevin talks about graduating from high school by the skin of his teeth, and the dummying down of the school district's requirements. Every student had to take a course in economics in order to graduate. Most waited until their senior year. Kev took it first semester and failed it. There was not a single spot left for him to take it second semester, leaving him ineligible for graduation. We brokered a deal with the teacher to let him do it as an independent study. Tony was in the same situation. I took it upon myself to make sure he passed at least that class. For some reason he would stay home each night just long enough to do a bit of economics homework with me. Tony would be waiting for us to finish - I don't think he ever finished his requirements. I feel certain that I learned a lot more than Kev did about the subject. But he passed it with a B, and I didn't take the tests for him! His graduation year was the centennial for the high school, which meant an evening graduation ceremony at the football field with fireworks to follow. It was a freezing cold night, he was sick, and the memory is not pleasant. I often told him I was going to walk across the stage with him to accept his diploma, since he would not have graduated without my help in economics.

The job with our friends did save his life, I am sure. It was hard work, and long hours, starting early in the morning. He worked for them for 5 years as a welder. These were some pretty dark days for us, and as I've said, we were in the dark about a lot of it. Work became my refuge. I can remember many times, when he was still living at home, watching for his car to come down the culdesac in the middle of the night, because I couldn't sleep. We'd then talk before he went to bed and I was able to finally sleep. I imagine now that most of the talking was for my good, and that he didn't really even remember the conversations the next day, but they gave me hope.



Diane J. said...

I am so glad we're reading this on this side of Kevin's rehabilitation and not still during his addiction. God truly had His hand on Kevin during his prodigal years. So many things could have turned out so tragically but for God's watchkeep over him.

Jessica is much better today, praise God, and Mikki is home tonight! I'll be posting an update soon...

Kristen said...

As I said to Kevin, I feel like I must have had my head in the sand. Or else you were just not telling me all that was going on because most of everything I'm reading I'm learning along with everyone else. I knew a little bit, but nothing like all of this.

Dawn said...

We mostly bore it alone and didn't tell anybody. It was embarrassing and shameful, and we felt like horrible parents. You were gone to school and then moved out. We were exhausted, and a lot we didn't even know the extent of it.

Praying for your Prodigal said...

"Tortured" is the word that sticks is a shared....tortured journey between son and parents.

Still, God's truth prevails. Simply put, we have a choice between, "Tortured....and Truth."

I am so glad for all of you--that Kev chose Truth.


Maine Mom said...

I can only imagine the pain you have gone through with this. I am learning so much from you and Kevin. Thank you for sharing.

Nancy said...

Im still enjoying your stories... and each time I am amazed with your strength through it all and how you never gave up on Kevin. I know this story has touched me and given me the reassurance that God is good! Thanks for sharing.

groovyoldlady said...

Wow. Your stories thus far are a real encouragement to me. We're going through our own tunnels of life right now and sometimes it takes continual reminders to focus on THE light at the end. I praise God that Bonehead hasn't gone so deeply into the darkness, but any prodigal child causes pain to their parents. Our hearts ache. We want to shelter and protect, then the next day we want to strangle the brat! I'm so glad that GOD is faithful and constant!

Susie said...

I read Kevin's story first and then yours. I can just feel your pain as I read your memories of that difficult time.
I also went to work around the same time you did to earn money for college expenses.
I think kids will find a way to do what they choose to do, whether we work or stay at home with them.
You and your husband were quite obviously loving and caring parents.

Pamela said...

Dawn, it is amazing how deceptive those so close to us can be especially when drugs are a motivating factor. It seems the parents are always the last to know.

I believe that by you and your hubby bringing Kevin into the station that may have been a pivoting moment. I feel so much empathy for you as you describe him sleeping in the back seat and the realization of all that was transpiring at the time, what a helpless feeling that must have been.

Remember to live in the present. Kevin is a son to be proud of and has come such a long way! What an incredible story of encouragement and hope!

Linda said...

I just can't imagine Dawn. I think all of us have been there to one degree or another. I know my kids did some things we had no inkling of until they "fessed up" much later in life.
The thing I think is so encouraging is that Kevin takes full responsitiblity for what he did. He is so open and honest. I really admire that.
Like Diane - I'm so glad we know this story had a happy ending. Thanks again for sharing what has to be painful to even think about let alone share with all of us.

Brenda said...

The pains don't end with labor do they? They just relocate - sometimes to the neck (or behind!), often to the heart.

I agree with Linda about Kevin's honesty in relating his story. I know you must be proud of the man he has become. It takes a certain kind of strength to shoulder the responsibility for our actions rather than place the blame elsewhere.

Your side of the story is also encouraging. Perseverance pays off. I will certainly never forget it. Thank you again for sharing.

Rachel said...

this seriously must have been the worst feeling for you as a mother. i can only imagine.

PEA said...

Dear I just commented to Kevin, my 4 brothers all got in simialar trouble as he did and 3 of them did prison time. He's making me understand what my brothers were going through and you're making me understand what my parents must have gone through. None of them have ever really talked about it to me, so I'm feeling like Kristen, like my head was in the sand at that time!! Hugs xoxo

Lala's world said...

I really can't imagine and yet I remember what my parents went thru thank the Lord for His Grace!

Barb said...

Chapter three. My word, Dawn.

First, Kristen, if you read your mom's comments, please know that no one thinks you were a bad sister to Kevin when this was going on. You were a teenager.

Trust me when I tell you that ALL of us were teenagers and we know that it's all about self. It's such a natural part of growing up, being totally centered on yourself, that we all have to go through that to become "people."

So I seriously doubt Kevin feels you didn't care about him. You were simply doing what he was doing. You were being a teenager and caring about yourself to what you now think was the exclusion of everyone else. We "grow up" when we pass that stage and both of you have done that beautifully.

Dawn, my friend. Sigh. My heart so feels for what you went through as a mother of two children in trouble. It is a huge, HUGE, testimony to your strength as a mother and your faith in God that either one of them, much less both of them, not only survived but have become wonderful adults who are willing to humble themselves before us all in the hope that even one person struggling with addiction will survive.

You are all a shining example of what can happen to save a family when that family pulls together in faith in the Lord.

Bless you. Bless Kevin. Bless Kristen.

I see a book in this. I do.

Danielle said...

Dawn...the strength of your story...that you gives me hope for when my own son might do something that greatly disappoints me. God know when or what that will be but it is just life, isn't it? I praise God for your story. Thank you for reaching out to me. You know drug addiction of a close family member is part of my story. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being REAL.

staceyhoff said...

Oh Dawn, my heart aches for you for all you have been through and yet rejoices for God's hand over you and your son. As I read your story, and your son's, I tried to replace Kevin's name with my son's name and really take it what it would be to go through what you went though as a mother with him, feeling it all from your perspective. Man! That was humbling!Would I be unwavering in my faith as I walked through this valley? I am certain there would be many moments I would have to hold on white knuckled relying sheerly on God's promises, not seeing one ray of light but talking to myself and reminding myself, of those promises He made to us as believers. Life is hard sometimes. It stinks. We go through pain and face the consequences of not only our sin, but others sin as well. Yet, God is with us all the while! I am rejoicing in his sending his son for us! Without him, there wouldn't have been any hope! But because of him, there is hope!! Please know that I have been challenged and blessed by yours and Kevin's accounts and thanks for doing your parts in being light to the world!!

Judith said...

Praise God you and Kevin got through this, and thank you and him for having the courage to share that journey. Only He knows how many lives it will help.

Maggie Ann said...

I'm sorry for your heartache over the years...I can't imagine what you've gone through. But, I'm glad God's grace is greater than any sin...and that within that loving grace, you have your son again..walking in the light. Blessings to you Dawn!

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

AS a youth worker, I saw so many kids go through these things. It was heartbreaking and so few of them ever made it out. Kevin is so fortunate to have had you and the foundation of Christ that saved his life!!!

kpjara said...

This must have been such a tough experience to go through! I'm so thankful the outcome holds God's handprint over Kevin's!

I'm Vikki said...

Dawn, thank you for posting on my blog and telling me about your stories being here. It's so hard for me to read all this...I lived thru this side of it also. I watched the dwnward spiral thru high school and into his adult years. I lived with his parents in my early 20s and saw first-hand their pain and confusion. Man, I remember all the lies, manipulation and deception as if it was yesterday.

I am so grateful that God brought us thru it all...but the pain is still there, so raw and so real.

My husband has talked many times about putting his story on a website (for the same reasons you & Kev mention). I now see how it can be done...and how powerful it would be! Thank you!

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but wordly sorrow brings death. See what this Godly sorrow has produced in you: What earnestness, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done" 2 Cor 7:10&11