Was The Teacher Still Teachable?

Memoir Excerpt:

“Her apartment was only two miles away from the condo. I parked on her street and was relieved to see her car, so I knew she was home. Running up the stairs, I tripped over a cat and sent it screeching down the steps. I knocked on her door but there was no answer. I knocked again—again, no answer. Music was playing, so I knew she was home. If she’d answered her phone, I could have told I was coming. But I was determined to see her so I banged on the door.

Finally she came and opened it, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth while she zipped up her jeans. Without waiting for an invitation, I brushed past her and approached the bedroom, but stopped in my tracks. Joe, her boyfriend, was lying on the bed, prostrate, his long legs hanging off the end. He was so out of it I don’t think he knew I was there.

“Mom, come back here,” she hissed, frantically beckoning me back into the living

room where she was standing. “This is not a good time.”

“It’s never a good time, Angie. You’ve been avoiding your father and me, and I

want to know why.”

“Mom, I know you’re worried. Joe’s really trying to kick the stuff, honest. Me

too. We’re detoxing right now. That’s why it’s not a good time.”


“Not a good time…” Summer of 2005 was upon us, and Angie had been struggling with serious drug addiction for four years. First it was methamphetamine, then cocaine, and now meth again. There had been two abortions, countless betrayals, one rehab, and brief, blessed periods of sunshine between the clouds, not to mention the accomplishment of earning her college degree. The highs and lows were exhausting me. But I was so sick of it all and frankly really angry with my daughter for not trying harder to work on her own recovery. She had so much going for her; it was such a waste.

“I can’t deal with this, Angie. You know what you need to do, forchrissakejust

do it!” Pausing to take a breath and looking back toward the bedroom, “And get rid of that creep on your bed,” I hammered.

I turned and left the apartment, slamming the door. I was furious—and terrified. It was so overwhelming after all we’d already been through, to be watching her in the middle of another relapse. Had Angie learned nothing from all her suffering so far? And what about me? Was the teacher still teachable?”


Back Down The Rabbit Hole

Memoir Excerpt:

“She used to sit in her living room and crow about her improved life: “I bet you never thought I’d make it to this place, after all I put you through, did you, Mom?”

And I gratefully agreed. If this was the best she could do for verbal amends, I’d take it. She flew up to Massachusetts to see her grandmother for the long Memorial Day weekend. In so many ways, she seemed to be on the mend, and making amends, to the people she loved.

That spring of 2005 I earned my M.A. in Teaching at George Mason University, and she and her brother loyally attended the ceremony. I turned around in the auditorium and saw her there with my son. I felt so proud not only of my achievement, but that Angie had turned her life around, and seemed to be happy in her recovery.

But when the program was over, and we started to file out, I saw that she had already left, and I felt a sense of foreboding, one of many that I would have in the years to come. That dark cloud began to cover the sun once more and once again, unbelievably to me, she began to tumble back into her addiction.”