April 4th would have been my daughter Joy's birthday.
She would have been 27.
I lost her at 3.
I've been stressed because I am going to visit her tomorrow.
The stress hides the pain.
Then two days ago I had to kick 3 girls out of Joy's House - a sober house for girls I opened in Joy's memory - because they failed a drug test.
It should have been four, but one admitted she might be dirty before the test and pleaded for another chance, saying that she had only slipped once a few weeks ago & it had been eating at her like crazy that she couldn't tell me.
When her test came back clean I gave her another chance, because I know this girl –
Her admitting to using drugs before the test wasn't the surprise,
Her using drugs again was.
Two of the other three were also a surprise.
One bad apple…
Tonight we had the weekly house meeting.
It was … strained. The girls had lost some friends.
The girl who had admitted using but passed the test, asked if she could go to the movies with the rest of the house (This was a first for the whole house going out on a Friday together – the loss of the others had re-introduced them to the reality of addiction, choices & consequences; they were sticking together).
I told her she knew she couldn't – she was on early curfew indefinitely.
Then another tried to interject and I stopped her quickly,
And maybe too sharply.
This girl was ALWAYS getting in the middle of things. She is a young, spoiled girl who thinks she is tough.
A real handful.
But so much better than when she came here four months ago.
She had a sponsor, gotten a job, was working the steps, and we had even gone to try to get her GED (it was a holiday, so they were closed, but we rode the people mover around downtown Miami so she could see it), but still,
When I realized how I spoke, I apologized, explaining that It was Joy's birthday tomorrow & I was a little stressed around this time.
As I was leaving, the handful called out in front of everyone, "Charlie, I'm starting my period soon so I might be a little bitchy myself this week-end." In a really a sarcastic tone.
I turned around quickly, and just as quickly stopped myself from saying anything as I saw the realization on her face of what she had just said. Then I also saw her tighten her jaw and wait for what was coming – a baby who thought she was tough. As I said, she is a handful.
I knew better than to say anything at the moment – it would not have been one of our talks,
So I just looked at her quietly (no yelling – which is what she was used to at home), and left;
After telling the girl who had relapsed that she could go to the movies with the house tonight, but she was back on curfew tomorrow.
A few hours later the handful,
And ****, her sidekick in Joy's House, knocked on my door.
"Why aren't you guys at the movies with the others?" I asked.
"We went and bought you a present because you're sad." A handful said.
I told her I didn't want it now; I wasn't sad, I was angry with her. What she had said was disrespectful and worse, looked like she didn't have empathy for what someone else was feeling.
"You reminded me of when you came here four months ago, and that wasn't good."
"I'm sorry." A handful said.
"She is, that's why we bought you presents!" Sidekick chimed in excitedly.
"Presents (plural)?" I asked, confused.
And that was all they needed.
A handful brought a bag out from behind her back, and sidekick followed with her own.
They were filled with little stuff from Publix - donuts, beef Jerky, cakes, candy, a pot pie, etc..
Each with a Post It note on it;
The donuts had a note with stick figure on it - with my name above it & a stick in its hand with 'Pee Test" above it…and a girl stick figure running away.
The beef Jerky's note said: Men Food (We think boys like this stuff).
The little cakes had a Post It with a stick figure of a bed, and the Joy's House, house mom's name above it, next to it, a little stick figure dog with "Dulche" above it (the name of a dog that one of the girl's had - that I've been telling them for weeks that it has to go), and a pictures of little circles beside the stick figure dog, with "poo" written above them (which is the only "going" this dog does – in the house mom's room!), and under it all, in big letters, 'ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY!"
There was a frozen pot pie with a note that said 'Save for a rainy day."
A moist towlettes pack with a note that said, "To clean your car with!" (OK, it is a bit dirty – I'm in it most of the day!).
A Nutty Bar, with a note that said 'Go Crazy!"
And a Florida postcard with a picture of an old man surrounded by bathing suited beauties. Written on the back was, "Charlie, we found your Dad!" (They know that my dad owned a strip club that I had managed for 10 years while in addiction).
There was a bouquet of flowers,
And a card.
It was a sympathy card with a nice Hallmark quote,
But it was the hand written note that made it suddenly very hard to swallow, though I need to really, really badly.
The card said,
We just wanted to thank you for all you do for us!!
We know we can be difficult at times but we just wanted to let you know that Joy would've been so lucky to have a dad as caring as you.
We Love YOU!
From all the girls – with love!
These girls made me smile (and yes, laugh a little) on a day I couldn't imagine a smile on.
I can't wait to tell Joy tomorrow.
Damn throat is acting up again.