Prior to opening my private practice providing therapy, I held a position as Clinical Director at a residential treatment facility serving pregnant addicted women. It was a year program where women had an opportunity to live independently in the apartments on the campus and learn life skills in preparation for the birth of their children. It was a difficult program for residents, and we were not always successful.
A few weeks ago, I got a call out of the blue from “Sherry”, mother of “Lily”, who had graduated from the program in 2003. Lily’s family had been quite attentive, and they were excited about the new baby on the way. They visited every Sunday and after Lily earned privileges to visit off-campus, she enjoyed time with her family, dining out, going to the movies, feeling free. She went on to find a part-time job which seemed to boost her morale.
Lily gave birth to a healthy, robust baby boy and our community celebrated, with cake and balloons, and homemade gifts that were made in our art class – a tradition that applauded each resident when her baby was born. Lily identified as gay and wanted no contact with the father of her child, planning to reside with her parents. Her family was supportive.
Six months after she graduated, we heard that she had over-dosed. Her drug of choice was heroin. Sherry came to see me, and we had the chance to talk and weep. All we could do is speculate. On the surface Lily had seemed so happy, she appeared to have quieted her addiction and we had hoped that the arrival of her beautiful baby boy “Eric” had given her focus. Sherry and her husband would raise their grandson.
It has been close to twenty years since I had contact with Sherry. So, as you might imagine, I was surprised to hear from her. She reported that Eric, now a young man, identifies as gay and that the family attends PFLAG in Guilford County, and that her family is doing well. So, I feel the need to somehow pay tribute to them. They have worked hard to embrace obstacles and face challenges, and they have loved one another during times when it was not easy to love. Taking relapse as an opportunity rather than a failure.
It's not often that I am witness to this depth of miraculous healing. It provides a dimension of closure that words cannot begin to describe.
Cindy Davis is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor.
She was an advice columnist for the Times-News, and is also a PFLAG Board Member.
Watch for Cindy's column each month on our Newsletter