Motel 6: A man was found dead there the other day. Suspicious circumstances, they say. It is a seedy place. I know. There was a time, not too long ago, when I put my daughter up in that same seedy hotel. She was dying. She was an alcoholic and she had failed countless detox and rehab programs. They knew her at all the ERs and it hurt me when they laughed, scoffed, scolded and said, “Here’s our girl,” only they didn’t mean it in a kind way.
This had my stunningly gorgeous, stop-shouldered, brilliant baby become: lying in her bed day after day, a bed soiled with her own urine and occasionally, feces. She became a shadow of her former self – a walking skeleton, when she could walk.
The calls always came in the middle of the night. “Come, I need you.” “I’m sick, I’m going to die.” The voice always slurred. I went. Always. Until I didn’t. Well, I did, but instead of bringing her home for one more session of enabling, I did what they all told me to do – all the experts, all my friends, all the family. I did “tough love”. My form of tough love. I knew I needed to quit rescuing, quit saving, quit enabling but I wasn’t going to turn her out to the streets. I took her to Motel 6.
My skin crawled when I walked her down the hallway full of greasy heads sticking out doorways slurring taunts, cigarettes dangling from lips or held in dirty hands, most unlit. We opened the door to her grimy depressing little room. I hugged her. She held me tight. I held her tighter. I turned before she could see the rising torrent in my eyes. “I love you Mom,” she said in a surprisingly sober voice. “I love you more, Lovey,” I choked and ran to get out of that sleazy, squalid place where I left my baby because I was practicing “tough love.”
Did the man’s mother take him there too? Was she practicing the tough love everyone told her to do? Why did my girl live and hers didn’t?
Motel 6: I drive by you often, certainly not purposefully, only because you are one route or another. You almost sucked in my little girl and swallowed her whole, but I thank God, she was stronger than you.