Friends and Prayers Like Gondolas

Telluride, CO, August 2020

In August the Rocky Mountains beckoned, or maybe it was my friend Cheri in Denver—Girls Trip 2020, Telluride, Colorado. Cheri has a Telluride connection, and she invited me and three other friends for a complimentary weekend at a posh three-bedroom condominium in the heart of the action. We grew up together in the Oklahoma panhandle. We’ve all known each other since fifth grade or before. I had never been to Telluride. AND we all rolled up to fifty within the past eight months or so. This was a celebration of empowered women and a new decade, the ultimate slumber party and the feat of forty-year friendships, hot tubs in the mountains and an offer I couldn’t refuse. COVID, shmovid.

The Telluride/Mountain Village Gondola carrying us up the mountain we face.

One Thursday, after sitting on my ass for 155 nearly-consecutive days with minimal human interaction since mid-March, I made my way to and through George Bush International all masked up and onto an airplane that touched down at Denver International. Denise from Dallas, my friend since age five, arrived ahead of me and waited with Cheri to pick me up. The three of us worked really hard to stay out of trouble before Starla, my friend since age seven, landed later that evening from California. On Friday morning, we three road-tripped into the Rockies and picked up Pamela, who flew from Austin to Montrose, sixty miles or so from our destination. Pamela has been my friend since age ten. Do I realize this is rare? Grown women, who grew up together, now staying connected, and still growing?

L-R. Cheri with dimples for days, Starla with stars in her eyes, and me mindful of this moment.

I’m sure I could tell some stories, but I would prefer to keep our secrets, just like I know they will keep mine. At the end of our time together, we shared photos and take-aways and one last hug. I can’t stop thinking about how the gondola carried us up and over the mountain, just like the best of friendships.

L-R. Denise, the badass blonde, and Pamela, my guru.

You see, when I returned home, the sky fell off my life, again. My son Drew, who lives with paranoid schizophrenia and dysfunctionally depends on his dad and me, returned to the hospital for the first time since 2015. An overdue hospitalization. His medication of the past five years, no longer effective. His doctor has been telling me for three years there’s nothing he can do. Me—after living through the 2017 hurricane, and in a hotel for ten months while rebuilding home, and starting a new job in 2017, another in 2018, and then a long-term sub job in 2019, and finally returning to school as a graduate student in 2020—well, I’ve stayed too fucking exhausted to look for a new doctor. Besides, Drew is an adult, and so he must agree to any changes. That’s the problem with seeking help for a person who doesn’t believe he has a problem. Meanwhile at home, Drew shouts at the voices he hears in his head most of the days of the month. His words. Terrible and angry. Racist and sexist. Filthy and threatening. His body odor vile. I don’t care to dive into further detail. All of this is an ongoing battle, Drew is now safe in the hospital, and of course, he wasn’t always this way. This brain disorder has transformed my son and stolen ten years of his life, and of course, I’m sad. In no way do I mean to imply schizophrenia is worse than cancer or Alzheimer’s or drug addiction or Lou Gehrig’s disease or any other infirmity leading to ultimate death. Wow. This post suddenly turned dark as tends to happen when I go down the path of what is wrong. Therefore, I focus on gratitude. Otherwise I may remain in fetal position for the rest of my days. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Cheers to women who uplift each other! Oh, and to age fifty. Happy Birthdays to us!

And so—I continue to count my blessings. When I don’t even care to put one foot in front of the next or speak a single word, I am so very thankful for the friends and family I have who carry me and for their prayers that lift me like a gondola up the mountain I continue to face.

“Who is set up for the tragedy of suffering? Nobody. The tragedy of the man not set up for tragedy—that is every man’s tragedy.”   

Philip Roth

And by the way, if you are the type who prays, please join me in believing Drew will understand there is better for him and that his dad and I are here to help and that we love him and that God will direct our steps and give us wisdom in dealing with this illness and that there will be a helpful, hopeful outcome to this hospitalization including a new doctor who believes along with me.

Amen. And thank you.

55 thoughts on “Friends and Prayers Like Gondolas

  1. It’s good that you were able to enjoy a get away with your long time friends. Guys friends should do that sort of thing too. I’m sure they do, but my guys friends don’t. Maybe I should start something?!
    The part about your son, Drew, certainly strikes a chord. My son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder this past spring. He was in a manic state then, but is now in a depressed state—staying in bed most of the day, not eating or drinking much, and not bathing.
    Somehow, like you, I must keep going.
    I am the praying type and will certainly pray for your son as you asked.
    God’s best to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. David, and I will pray for your son and his showers. I know it’s not for a lack of asking, begging, or demanding.

      Guys should definitely have their connections with other guys—and use some of Brené Brown’s vulnerability with each other. You should start something—even if it’s just one other person.

      Thank you for your prayers. This blog is a cry for help. I believe in people agreeing in prayer. The hospital would’ve released him yesterday, but we aren’t willing for him to come home without some sort of step in the right direction. We’re looking into another housing situation, and I’ve reached out to the doctor at the hospital in writing. There is drug use, too. I’m not sure if it’s ineffective medication or drug use exacerbating the problem. 🙏🏻

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. Just…. wow. We truly have no idea so much of the time, as life carries someone past us in their gondola, what is waiting for them on the other side of the mountain. Your post is a good reminder that we should keep that thought a bit closer whenever we are in the presence of any other person — whether we are strangers, or foes, or friends and whether we are with them in their anger, rejoicing or mourning. Thank you for sharing this. I will be praying the prayer I pray most commonly now, “a prayer without words, only moanings interpreted, I hope, by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:26) — Shalom, Jane

    Liked by 3 people

      1. 🙂 ❤ Take care of you & the family – and.. our Barcelona Rendez-vous is still in the boxes – as soon as this microbe leaves us alone and you have time, I'll take you to see the Mediterranean. ❤

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  3. So what it’s not cancer? It’s your own personal hell deserving of attention and help. Praying for strength, courage, grace and (non idiot) doctors with answers and medicines. God bless and keep you, your husband and Drew.

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    1. It’s unbelievable how difficult it is to receive the necessary help for mental illnesses. There are illnesses of the body and illnesses of the mind. Both are equally real and often unavoidable. I’m working on a memoir about our journey for help. I so appreciate you for your prayers and kindness, Edith!

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    1. Hi Jerry, I attended online church the Sunday before this hospitalization and accidentally clicked a button to request prayer. So I went ahead with a request on Drew’s behalf, and this lovely woman prayed with me in writing for guidance and wisdom. As difficult as hospitalizations are, I believe God is at work in our lives. I appreciate you for praying.

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  4. Oh, Crystal, the journey. Astounding in both cases. Briefly, regarding the trip, those peaks, those views, remind how much Eastern “mountains” are lacking. Then, your and your friends’ lifetime of love and shared adventures. If it happened just once it’d be extraordinary. Three times, though? Words are insufficient.

    As for Drew, what emotions stir. All the more intense a suffering, as this was something that bubbled to the surface only later in life, and it still sends you careening. No, though, you’ve been strong; far stronger than 99% of us would’ve been in your situation. You’ve cultivated excellent friends and family, yet circumstances draw deeply from those accounts. How much is left? Probably more than you think, and if the prayers of a (somewhat) lapsed Lutheran add slightly to your resources, you have them, my friend.

    What a dramatic turn, from Colorado, until now. It just goes to show how rapidly things change. They just zagged in the last month or so, but when will they zig? One thing’s for sure – you’re still in mid-paragraph, Chapter 6. Lots and lots more writing until you reach the epilogue. Still plenty of cliffhangers, plots twists and triumphs out there yet..

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I accept prayers from all walks of life. My pre-school was Lutheran, before I dropped out.

      Thanks for the pep talk, Keith. This evening I wait for the zig—you know I’m an optimist at heart, having a moment of pessimism today.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Prayers for you and your husband that you will find a competent doctor who is a strong, godly man of faith. I cannot imagine your degree of suffering with and for your beloved son. I wish I could be there to help you, if only to hold your hand and listen.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. You are welcome, Crystal! That’s what I prayed for — a professional setting where he and his meds can be supervised as well as a respite / retreat for you at home.

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      2. I found out today he never showed up at the group home. I have talked to him on the phone. He says he’s going back. He’s good at saying what I want to hear. Prayer is all that’s left.

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  6. First of all, this is a beautiful quote: “Friends and prayers are like gondolas. They carry you when you face mountains.” Wow! Thank you for that.

    I am continuing to pray with you, Crystal. I pray for the coming of one who will believe and persist and make that positive sustainable difference in Drew’s life. Meanwhile, hang in there. Keep praying, and keep writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kionna, thank you. I loved our gondola photos, and what an amazing view from the top. I need to remind myself to keep my eyes on the summit. For now the mountain lies ahead, and your prayers (and Averri’s) carry me more than I could ever say.

      Today’s update is less hopeful. I will text you.

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  7. Your trip to Telluride sounds amazing!! You are so blessed to have life long friends! Time away from the norm is so important for everyone. Prayers for your son. I can’t imagine what you are going through. As a former ER nurse I saw many people with this terrible affliction and behind them all were parents who loved, cared, even grieved but were exhausted. I always made sure to at least show those that brought their family members in some extra kindness, even if just a cup of coffee, because the family is dealing with so much. Prayers to you and your son.❤️❤️ Lori

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Lori, you nailed it all. Blessed with friends and time away. Yet grieving and exhausted. I don’t understand why getting help has to be this difficult. Thank you so much for your prayers. They mean more than you will ever know.

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  8. What a wonderful trip and thank you for sharing Drew. My prayers are with all of you. Your words are so inspiring. They make me feel fiercely positive. Thank you.

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    1. I’m trying to keep my own chin up and inspire myself. Gratitude helps me keep it all in perspective. Belief in divine power gives me hope. Thank you for your prayers, SP. My mother always said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20). And so I believe in the power of prayer in numbers.

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    1. It’s a choice. Despair or hope? 🤔 I choose hope. And when I slip down that slope of despair, I might just run away to the mountains with friends again…or to the beach…or to the spare bedroom of a friend who says, “I’ve got you.” In those places I find courage and strength, but you are right—it’s a fight!

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  9. Crystal,
    I am so glad you got to visit Telluride with your friends. I hope you enjoyed and relaxed. You know I continue to pray for Drew. I hope the new medicine kicks in soon. My family has had a few people with mental health issues. I know it takes a couple of weeks up to a month for medicine to kick in. Keep your chin up and stay strong and do what you have to for your son. My best wishes and 🙏 for you, Drew, his doctor, and his father.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Mountains and beaches speak to my heart. Oh, and friends, too. Thank you for your prayers, Shea.

      There were no medication changes with this visit. Drew takes his medicine via monthly injection, which he received the week leading up to the hospital. The hospital doctor determined in five days he was good to go. The group home picked him up. From there he Ubered home and picked up some things and his car. Thirty-six hours + later, Drew is with “a friend” and hasn’t returned to the group home. I’ve spoken with him on the phone, and I know he is okay for now. I just don’t know where we go from here.

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  10. Thank you for sharing!!.. Just before my late wife passed away she were visited by a chaplain..he ask her if she had a religion and she said “no”, he then ask her if she believed in the hereafter and she said “yes”.. he then said “good, for it is what is in the heart that matters, not a name above a door” I believe the answers you seek are in your heart… 🙂

    The universe knows that I am not into religion but I believe there is a saying “God promised you a safe landing, he did not say the journey would be a smooth one”… you and your son just follow your heart and you won’t go wrong… 🙂

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