Andrew was a happy, outgoing kid. One of his favorite games was running and hiding behind the living room chair as soon as he heard his dad's car pull up outside. Wilson then came in and made a big deal about trying to find him. Andrew would squeal and laugh when his dad finally crept over and grabbed him.
When Andrew played outside, I had to keep an eye on him. Turn your back for just a minute and he'd be up on the neighbor's porch ringing their doorbell. On a Friday in early May, Wilson and I worked all day penning Andrew in with a fence around the yard. Andrew and I then went to spend that night at my dad's. Cheri called me there the next day, upset. While we were gone, Wilson had gone out drinking. Cheri's broken voice betrayed the strong mask she usually wore; she wanted me to do something to stop him.
"We were all over to Verlin's house," she told me, "Everyone was drinking, then my dad asked me to tie the tourniquet for him while he shot up. It was my 16th birthday and he was asking me to help him shoot up!"
"What happened? Why is he doing this when everything was going so good?"
"He said he felt under pressure." she answered without explanation, "He also plans on going to Texas on Monday."
I felt the color leave my face. Why would he want to go off and leave us? Not knowing what else to do, I called Elmer Dovetail.
"Don't be scared,” he said, "God will watch over your family. Believe it, and thank God for already having helped you."
I tried to do that. I told myself that I wasn't scared about what Andrew would do without Wilson; I wasn't scared that he wouldn't come home. I told myself that I wasn't scared that he would lie to me some more, that he didn't love me, or that I was going to lose my best friend, my son's father.
"God, please help us and Wilson. Please save our family."
It turned out one of Wilson's friends had a large amount of money in the bank and the possibility for fun and travel was too much to pass up. Two days later Wilson gathered some things and left for Texas. With no one to talk to, I wrote a letter to Andrew:
"If he was having problems, I would have listened. He didn't give me a chance. He didn't give me any warning. Now it's too late, because once he starts drinking its almost impossible to get him to quit. I wish I could stop him somehow. I wish I could make him come back. I wish he wasn't an alcoholic. I do love him.
I pray, but he still drinks. So maybe prayers don't work. Maybe if I had more faith the prayers would work.
I haven't eaten since Sunday. I can't eat when I'm scared."
A couple days later Andrew heard a car across the street. He squealed with glee, and ran behind the living room chair, waiting. After several minutes, he peeked out from behind the chair and called, "Daddy! Come get me!"
"Daddy isn't here Andrew."
Andrew was silent a moment, and then stepped out, his lip quivering and eyes beginning to water, "Where's Daddy?"