To Stay or Go

To Stay or Go

The woman seemed haunted.  When she talked about her son, a shadow fell across her eyes.

I met Carol (not her real name) recently.  She fell in step with me as we walked with a group of Americans on the tiled streets of Granada, part of a six-city tour of Spain.   Her adult son had suffered a terrible accident just prior to her departure for the trip.  She wondered, worried, over whether to cancel.  Mostly, she worried over whether possible drug use had caused the single-vehicle accident.

Her daughter and her former husband, the son’s father, both urged her NOT to cancel.  They were there.  The son would be discharged from the hospital in days. He had not asked her to stay either.

Still, she worried.  About him.  About her decision to leave.  About being 5,000 miles away.

I sought for ways to console her.  Would I have done the same?  Would I have left my son in that same circumstance?

The question plagued me until the warm glow of the next Spanish dawn.  Then it became clear.  Perhaps this was another example of addiction’s unhealthy hold on healthy members of a family.

Carol didn’t know what she didn’t know.  Maybe drugs had caused the accident, but maybe not.  And what if they had?  Would her staying behind have changed that?

If she had cancelled, would her husband have cancelled, too?  Would addiction then harm others she loved?  Her son was not a child.  He was a man in his thirties living independently, making decisions for his own life – separate and apart from his mom – as he should.

For Carol, staying behind was easy.  Going on the trip was hard.

Sometimes addiction forces us to take the harder path.  Sometimes we just have to go.


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