As I was leaving work, I felt the chill in the air. Summer was turning into fall at a fast rate. I was unprepared for the cold air and realized too late, I did not have my jacket. I decided in that moment, I would go straight home from work. Lilly should be home tonight since it is a school night, we can order dinner in, I thought as I walked the car.
I had decided to call Lilly on my way home, but she was not answering. I should not have been surprised since this has been happening often these days. I wonder where that child is and what she is up to. I know things have been rough the last few months. Lilly used to be a sweet, funny, and generous child, but now she is seventeen going on twenty-one and she has changed. She has been rebellious with her words and her actions. My beautiful blonde hair and blue-eyed child is not black headed and full of hatred for everything. She will not talk to her dad or me anymore. I know deep down there is something going on and I cannot ignore it anymore. I just wish I could put my finger on what I am missing. I know it is something.
As I get home, her car is not in its normal spot. I call her again and again. There is no answer to any of my calls. I call Roy, my husband who is gone on a work trip for a couple of weeks, but he has not heard from her either. Hmmm…where could she be?
I sit and contemplate who she could be with, but the friends she has always had are not her friends anymore. I cannot for the life of me remember the new boyfriend’s name, Lucas, Landon, Leon? I have no idea. What I do know is I do not like this boy. She has changed drastically since being with him. I have no idea what she sees in him.
As the hours pass, I realize I have not had dinner, but I am too anxious to eat. I continue to try calling her phone and have left a couple messages and a couple of text messages for her without any response. Now when I call, her phone goes straight to voicemail, so she either turned the phone off or it is now dead. I know she is being rebellious, and I have tried giving her space, but it has only gotten worse. I know she is skipping school and her grades are falling. If she would just graduate, she has the option to graduate early so she has three months left.
I decide as it gets later and later, I will watch television and wait up for her. As the hours pass, the more worried and anxious I am becoming. Around three in the morning, I see head lights coming up the driveway. I am relieved, even though I am also angry that it is, in fact, Lilly.
As she opens the door, she does not know I am sitting there, waiting. She is trying to sneak in, and I tell myself to watch my anger, but as she falls in the door, I smell the alcohol and marijuana on her. I smell a different metallic smell on her also that I cannot put my finger on. She is on the ground from falling in the doorway and I flip the light on. She looks up at me and tries to get up off the floor, but she is too inebriated to do so. As disappointed and angry I am at Lilly, I am grateful she is home safely. Driving under the influence is not something I thought my girl would do.
“Young lady, where have you been?” I ask her, trying to stay calm. “It’s none of your business,” she slurs back at me. “Do you know, it is three o’clock in the morning and I have been worried about you. You did not respond to my texts or call me back,” I tell her, still trying to remain calm. “Yeah, I know, I did not want to come home. I was with Ricky and his friends having fun,” she says. In my mind, I think, Ricky? I was way off on that kid’s name. I look at her, help her up off the floor, help her to her room and into her bed. “Lilly, I smell the alcohol and the marijuana on you, so we will talk about this tomorrow.” She did not hear a word of that, she was already passed out.
The next morning, I call into work so I can talk to Lilly. I call the school and tell them she will not be there today. I have got to do something proactive to help her with her destructive behavior. I had called her dad after Lilly came home and told him he needed to come home, we have a big problem, and our girl needs our help. He should be home in an hour or so.
I did not figure Lilly would be up early since she would have a hangover after that smell, she had on her the night before. I make some breakfast and take it to her room. When I open the door, she is not there, and her window is opened. “Great, “I say to myself out loud. Her car is still in the driveways. I call Lilly’s phone, but it goes straight to voicemail. Yes, I was right about that boy, I think to myself. None of that matters now, I must find Lilly.
As I am in her room, I look around. Her room is trashed. There are alcohol bottles, beer cans, food, an ashtray full of cigarette butts. At least she left the window opened, I think to myself. I cannot believe my eyes. Lilly has always been clean with her room. Her clothes are all over the place. This is not like her. What is going on with my child?
I go downstairs and check out our freezer, we have some liquor in there for the occasional mixed drink. Just as I had expected, frozen water in the liquor bottles. How long has this been going on? How have I missed this? My girl is hurting, and I am failing her by not seeing it. She was so happy until she met Ricky, or she seemed to be. What did I miss? She does not really share much with us anymore, but she is a teenager. What are we going to do?
“Where is she,” Roy hollers as he comes in the door looking panicked and downright mad. I look at him with tears in my eyes and say, “honestly, I do not know.” I take his hand as we both start to cry over our youngest child. I lead him up to her room to show him what I have discovered. Roy does not know what to say. We stand there looking around in bewilderment wondering what is happening around us.
After unknown amount of time has passed, Roy calls the police, but of course, they say she is seventeen and probably ran away from home. They also tell us, it has not been twenty-four hours, so there is nothing they can do at this time. None of that wants to be heard by scared parents in desperation to find their child, but that is the way things were. Roy and I pull ourselves together the best we can to try to come up with our next move.
“Carol,” Roy says, “let’s go search her room. As much as I do not want to do that, maybe we can find Ricky’s number we can find her.” Something told me this was a bad idea, but we had to do something. As we started searching, the pit in my stomach was growing. Something bad was about to happen, I could feel it. Roy opened a few drawers and so did I, we did not find anything to help us in our search for her. What we did find was a baggie filled with some sort of white powder. We knew exactly what we were dealing with at that moment. Things all came together, and we both sat in the floor of Lilly’s room and cried. The realization our daughter was on meth was too much. We never thought this would happen to us. The thoughts were too much. How could we have missed the signs?
Lilly did not come home that night or the next night or the next. Roy and I were so worried. We had called the police again at the twenty-four-hour mark again, but we did not have much information, so it gave them little to go on. It was an agonizing week to say the least when we finally heard something.
The phone was ringing at midnight a week to the day when Lilly had disappeared. Roy grabbed the phone, “Hello, Lilly?” Roy said hoping it was her. “No, this is Officer Post, is this Mr. Peterson?” Roy said, “yes, it is, officer, do you have news for me on Lilly?” “Yes, sir, we do, she is at the station on DUI charges and stealing a car if you want to come to the station to see her,” said the officer. “Thank you, we are headed there now,” Roy said and hung up.
“Carol, Roy said, “they have Lilly at the station on DUI charges and stealing a car. We need to get down there now.” We hurried to leave the house. We were not prepared for what was to come when we got to the station. We were not sure what to expect, but it was not what we saw.
Once we got to the station, they had Lilly in lock up. She looked so skinny from a week ago. She looked so broken. Her face had broken out something severe. She did not look like my Lilly. Officer Post let us talk to her. Lilly cried and begged for our forgiveness. She begged us for help, she knew she needed it. She was in too deep and being arrested proved that to her. She said Ricky had picked her up and then dumped her at a party and never came back. She said the people at the party took her phone and kept her drugged. She finally snuck out of the house and had found a car with the keys in it to get out of there. She was caught driving over the speed limit and was high. Now my baby was in trouble, but she was begging for help.
She stayed in jail until the arrangement. The judge sentenced her to three months in jail and then rehab. Lilly took it like a champ. She admitted her faults and came clean to what had happened. She knew the drugs had changed her and she had a lot to make up for. At the end of the day, she is my baby, and I must believe she will come out of this. I know it is a struggle since it is an illness, but she will come out of this. I will be here to support her through the struggle.
The moral to this story is, things like this can happen to anyone. Watch for the changes in the people you love. It only takes one time for the addiction to take hold of someone. Please do not judge those you see on the street with an addiction, you do not know their story. Those people are someone else’s baby, and those parents are broken hearted somewhere hoping they will get the help they need to turn their life around. Show kindness to these people, they may have an addiction, but they also have an illness. They need help, not judgement. Be kind to these people, you do not know what kindness will do for them.