Quietly Slipping Away

By Beth Ann Jedziniak

When Nathan was a little boy and having trouble sleeping, his mother would lie down with him, read an extra story, sing an extra song and then, when he was all snuggled and warm and sleepy, she would gently move his little arm and quietly slip away.

His mother had thought that she could do the same when Nathan and his little brother were grown and settled into their adult lives. She thought that she could escape the war going on in her head by hoarding her sleeping pills until it was safe to quietly slip away unnoticed.

In the distance Nate’s mother heard a sound but couldn’t quite place it. When she finally realized that it was the doorbell, she looked at her phone to check the time. 10:30 pm. Jumping out of bed and into the jeans and t-shirt she had thrown off just an hour ago, she stubbed her toe on the kitchen chair, cussed under her breath, and yelled, “I’m coming. Be right there.”

When she clicked on the porch light, she saw a frantic young woman. “Is Nate here?”

Disoriented, his mother opened the door and asked, “Who are you?”

“I am a friend of Nathan’s, and he and I were texting earlier this evening when all of a sudden his messages started to lose structure and sense and I’m worried. Is he here?”

Suddenly wide awake, Nathan’s mother asked to see the young woman’s phone and read the messages for herself. From his jumbled words it was clear that he was in trouble so they sent a text hoping that he would give a clue as to where he was. He did. Barely.

It was a miracle that his mother found him in time. But there he was on the floor of the hotel room, alcohol and empty pill bottles lying next to him, a self-scathing note scribbled in his leather-bound journal — his words poignant and biting, a bitter mix of poetry and pain, his army uniform crumpled on the floor.

Nathan had fallen between the wall and the bed of his hotel room. His mother slid down beside him and pulled him into her arms. He was in and out of consciousness. He begged her to leave him there to die, to just go home and pretend that she had not found him. She told him that that was the one thing she could not do. She could not leave him — not now, not ever. Then she did the only thing she could for him, what she had always done — she held onto him, talking and singing until the ambulance arrived.

His mother had saved him but unbeknownst to him, he had saved her that night as well by reminding her that you cannot quietly slip away unnoticed from the ones you love.

\"\"Beth Ann Jedziniak has a passion for the written and spoken word. Her speech titled “My VaJourney” was recorded for Claim the Stage podcast and will be published in the forthcoming book SECRETS OF THE SISTERHOOD: 50 STORIES OF LOVE, TRUTH AND POWER due out in November of 2019. Most evenings you will find her in her loft playing, writing, painting, and drinking copious amounts of tea.

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