He calls on the phone, this stranger, my son. “What does your real voice sound like?” he asks. In response my stomach churns and that familiar thought, Please let me die, crosses my mind. Once again I feel as if I’m speaking to someone on an unending LSD trip, and it’s so tiring, too much of a challenge. I try to be patient, cognizant of his mental malfunction, because he is my hero since he remains sweet and thoughtful and looks for the good in everything.
“You are hearing my real voice,” I tell him.
“No,” he says. “I want to hear how you sound from inside.”
I cover my mouth and sigh. “Does everything have to be significant, like I’m talking to God? Can’t something be banal sometimes?” I continue, trying to connect, have him understand. “When I’m in a store buying groceries, and I ask a clerk for assistance, that’s my real voice just as if I were drowning and screaming for help.” But maybe, he is asking about substance not sound, I wonder.
The conversation shifts.
“Medicine for mental illness just makes people weaker, not stronger,” he says.
I know to avoid that subject.
But he insists on lecturing. When I remain quiet, he says, “We’ll talk about that more in the future.”
I shake my head, considering his words. No we won’t. We’ve covered that topic till the cows come home. It’s up to your doctors now. I’ve done all that I can.
I change the subject and this time it sticks. “Would you like to come over for dinner? Your birthday is in a few days.”
“No,” he answers. “We’ll just get in an argument.”
He is right. I’ve noted recently how he’s more entrenched in his beliefs and any difference of opinion results in his cursing and later apologizing.
I’ve thought of abandoning him, even though it seems an atrocity, but I’ve tried everything short of sacrificing my soul. Still, I weigh the option of letting go, losing him to a fate of homelessness, jail or becoming one of the missing. Not yet, I tell myself.
“Then I’ll see you sooner or later. Later, I hope in all honesty. This is too hard. Then … “I love you,” I say, meaning it.
“Love you too. Bye.”