It was raining that May night. No, actually, it was pouring. The kind of pouring where it wouldn’t be out of the question to see a local pond Catfish swimming alongside the curb. It was 1 a.m. and I was screaming, loudly, out of fear, out of desperation, out of the sheer magnitude of the situation. Here we were, at a mental health hospital, because our son had threatened to harm himself.
With my husband out of town, I called my parents. It took three tries for Dad to understand me as I sobbed, “Two officers in a Sheriff’s car are taking our son to the hospital.” After five hours of evaluation, the hospital felt he met crisis criteria. I guess him managing to pace a full 26.2 mile marathon within his tiny room was a clue. With him back in the Sheriff’s car, our pathetic little caravan of sorrow falls in line behind.
With our son whisked away before I get to touch him or lay eyes on him, our wet and doe-eyed trio gets ushered into the intake office. We huddle over the inch-high stack of forms I was given and collectively answer the questions a-la some 70’s game show. The intake worker (poor thing got the crappy graveyard shift) joins us, her face full of all of the proper empathy one would expect. She begins to review with us the notes from the emergency room: No sign of drugs or alcohol – check, asthma – check, extremely irritable – check, depressed – check, Asperger’s Syndrome – check. What the…? No – UNCHECK, repeat, UNCHECK. Where did that come from? Who said that?
She eyeballed me and continued. She said, “He’s smart, and the smart ones are hard.” “I asked him if he wanted something to eat and he asked what I was offering. I told him I could round up a peanut butter sandwich. He told me ‘My palate’s too sophisticated for peanut butter.’” She went on, “ I love him already.”