Sometimes things happen that are simply unbelievable. This can be a good unbelievable, where you’re thrilled to hear the news. It can be a bad unbelievable, where you just shake your head and wonder what the hell just happened. When you get several of those head-shaking events in a row it can make your foundation shake like a building in Frisco during an earthquake.
I’ve mentioned my beloved Z. My beautiful, frustrating, much-loved bipolar son. In July, he moved out into his own apartment. He had gotten a job and it seemed to be steady. His girlfriend moved in with him (cringe on that one), but I accepted it as part of his life. For a few months, things seemed to be great. He didn’t ask me for money and seemed happy. He still didn’t have his driver’s license, and was biking everywhere, but it seemed to work for him. Life was good, but as with many bipolar folks – when they feel good, they go off their meds and that’s exactly what he did.
Although Z graduated in May of this year, he was only 17. His 18th birthday was not until this past October. Upon his 18th birthday, he became able to access a small trust that had been set up for him. Without my help, he accessed the trust and withdrew the entire amount of money. He then purchased a car, purchased a handgun, and took his girlfriend on vacation. He didn’t tell me any of this. We talk weekly, and I had just seen him on a Monday when I took him to DMV to get his state identification card. Still no driver’s license. On Saturday, the police show up to our home because Z’s girlfriend’s dad has filed a missing persons report on her. I try to get ahold of Z. Nothing. Sunday rolls around. No response. I call our cell provider and the last time his cell pinged to a tower was three days prior. I really started to panic because what 18 year old doesn’t use his phone for 3 days and filed my own missing persons report. The police did a well-check out to his apartment where they found a guy living there who is a known meth user. According to neighbors, since Z has been gone, there have been a steady stream of people into the apartment carrying out Z’s belongings. Stealing from him. Both Z and his girlfriend were nowhere to be found, but the “roommate” said they’d gone on vacation to Malibu. This partially makes sense to me because Malibu is where Z went to rehab and had very fond memories of his time there. I could see him wanting to take his girlfriend down to check it out and say “hi” to everyone there. My panic lessens somewhat.
Monday rolls around and I finally get a call from Z. It comes through an automated provider telling me that I was getting a call from a Los Angeles county inmate. I load on money to be able to talk to him, and after several attempts, I’m finally able to talk to him. He tells me that he bought a convertible mustang and drove down to Los Angeles with his girlfriend. While there, they got lost in Compton. Because of their car looking out of place in the neighborhood, the police pulled them over. Of course Z had no license or insurance. Of course Z had drugs in the car. This, I expected. This is something I had prepared myself for because of his lifestyle. What I hadn’t prepared myself for was the face that he had a loaded 22 pistol in the glove compartment. He cries as he tells me he just bought it to protect himself. Regardless of the reason he bought it, my beloved boy was arrested on felony counts and booked into jail. Hearing his story made my heart sink.
As Z and I are talking, he is in hysterics because his girlfriend is stranded in Los Angeles. The car is a stick and she can’t drive it. She has no way to get home and is stuck in Compton. At this point, she’s been there for four days. She has no phone and we have no way to find her. I make my promises to try everything possible to locate her, and spend the rest of the day calling every motel in Compton. We finally track her down, I call the police and let them know I’ve found her, and they call her parents. Her parents pick her up in the early hours of Tuesday morning because Los Angeles is hours away from where we live. They bring her and the new car to their home. They won’t let her go back to her apartment because they, too, know about the meth user crashing there.
On Tuesday I talk to Z. Tuesday is his arraignment day. I tell him to plead not guilty because we don’t know the penal codes he is being charged with. Z tells me he is going to plead guilty so he can get out quicker. I beg him not to so that we can figure out what the exact charges are and plan our move from there. He tells me he’ll think about it. By the time I talk to him Tuesday afternoon, he’s pled guilty to a felony charge. He still isn’t sure exactly what the charge is, but according to him, the other inmates there tell him he’ll be out in 30 days and that’s all he cares about. My beautiful stupid boy has no idea how this felony conviction will impact him for the rest of his life. All he can see is the here and now. He firmly believes that he’ll be released at his sentencing hearing the first week in December. I am devastated, but this too is something I can work around. I love him and know he can overcome this at some point. All of this behavior is not unusual for someone with bipolar disorder who is off their meds. They make impulsive, reckless decisions and I know this. I accept this as part of who he is but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with the fallout.
I finally ask him about the trust. It’s the elephant in the room. He wouldn’t have been able to buy the car without accessing it. He tells me that he withdrew the entire amount of money last week. He bought the car in cash, and then stored the rest of the money in a drawer in his apartment. I ask him exactly how much was in the drawer and he refuses to tell me, just says “a lot, mom”. He says he knows it is gone, that based on everything he’s heard that the roommate has stolen it. I don’t say anything, but I don’t understand. He had two bank accounts where he could have safely stored the money. Yet he made the choice to leave it in his apartment with a sketchy guy while he went on vacation. I sit on the phone just wanting to cry because I worked hard to make sure that money was put into a trust for him at a time when I didn’t have a lot of money and could have used it to support us. Instead, I did the right thing and the money I saved for him was gone in the blink of an eye.
I just want to shout up to God, or whoever is pulling these strings of life, “You’re fucking joking, right?”