“Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.” –Shakespeare

After a long weekend of traveling to Galveston to San Antonio, my Monday started off with a bang back at Solis for my semi annual mammogram Monday morning. Why semi annual? Because over the past ten years I’ve had not one but two lumpectomies. My visits to Solis make me a nervous wreck. At 7:15AM, my shaking hands handed the tablet back to the receptionist at Solis. By 8:12AM, I was disrobed and going through my X-rays. My phone continued to ring. It never stops. For obvious reasons, I ignored the sound of Westminster chimes on my ringtone. 

By 8:37AM, I was walking to the locker to get my clothing and head to the changing area. My phone rang again. It was Cindy. “Stephaney has been kicked out of rehab and is by your house.” My blood pressure shot through the roof. Seventeen years of my niece and her choices have caused more emotional and financial devastation than I could ever put into words. 

Disappointment after disappointment aside, surprise phone calls about Stephaney consistently upset our entire family. Now literally throwing my clothes on to go look for Stephaney AGAIN, I rolled out of Baylor Health Systems to drive to my home wondering what in the Hell we were going to do with Stephaney NOW?! Two months into her 6 month treatment and yet again, sheer despair and disappointment were literally near my doorstep. 

Kicking myself for paying her bond when she was arrested at Dallas Greyhound months ago when I Cindy and I had tried to get Stephaney into what I believed was a rehab in Valdosta, Georgia and she somehow managed to get herself into a brawl that resulted in the Dallas PD finding a revoked bond from Cotton County, Oklahoma regarding Stephaney missing her probation payment. Driving home, I wished I had let Dallas transport Stephaney to Cotton County. Would jail straighten her out? Who knows. 

For three years now, my niece has had relapse after relapse to the point that not only my twin sister but also I have been hospitalized for hypertension. I reach for my Xanax as I drive preparing myself for yet another version of Stephaney blaming everyone but herself for being kicked out of treatment AGAIN. 

A few blocks from home, I pull over and call the treatment center myself. Stephaney is a pathological liar and I know it. Me “my niece called her mother and said she had been released from treatment.” The center “Stephaney volunteered to leave the program by leaving the hospital.” Hmm, I knew it. Two blocks later, I see my niece at the park near my house. I bark “get in.” 

Stephaney starts in with “it wasn’t my fault.” I turn to her and say “your mother has spent 15 years raising your twins. She has sacrificed her life over and over. You have cost us tens of thousands of dollars trying to fix you. You aren’t our priority. Your children are. You are 32 years old and you are killing us. I’m going to find you another rehab and you WILL finish the program!” 

Stephaney barks “I want a cigarette.” My niece is selfish, self destructive and reminds me of pigpen with a whirlwind of chaos constantly surrounding her. I drive to a convenience store. 

I’m deflated and depressed. I’m desperate to catch a break from Stephaney and her stupid choices. I’m determined to protect Cindy and the twins from yet another episode of “trying to Save Stephaney.” I google Oklahoma rehabilitation facilities. I need Stephaney in another state. I need to act quickly too. 

By the time Stephaney walked out of Quick Way, I had located a rehab. I’m nothing if not determined. As usual, Stephaney had excuses. “I lost all of the things you bought me and my ID.” Lit, I said “what are you talking about?” My niece (laughing as usual) said “I signed a waiver giving up my property to the facility.” 

More drama. More chaos. More stress. MORE EXPENSES due to a 32 year old that flat out refuses to get her shit together and be a responsible adult.

Now in order to get Stephaney into treatment, I would have to go buy a birth certificate and then drive her to the DMV as well as go to the bank for a cashiers check for the new facility. Ugh. Facilities (even cash paying facilities since Stephaney doesn’t have insurance) require proper identification. 

Waiting at the clerks office, I book a bus from Fort Worth to Muskogee Oklahoma for Stephaney at 1:58AM. I have less than 12 hours to replace Stephaney’s clothes, shoes, toiletries and other items Cindy and I have replaced again and again. Grrr.

Cindy meets me at Walmart. We are miserable together as Stephaney throws item after item into the buggy. Three hundred plus dollars later, we roll out of Walmart to Fort Worth. I’m exhausted. Cindy’s too tired to cry. 

My son has picked up the twins and taken them home with him so they can spend the night at his house. My son will take the twins to school Tuesday while I take Foxy to the vet and Cindy goes to an appointment. We are up all night Monday getting Stephaney on that bus to Oklahoma.

At midnight, Cindy and I sit for two hours waiting on the bus with Stephaney to make damn sure she gets on it. At 2:15AM, we realize that the bus has come and gone. SOB. I load up and drive Stephaney to Dallas while Cindy takes a nitroglycerin tablet. I swear if anybody ever believed that dealing with our family was easy they have no idea what sheer, raw, hell my niece has brought to our lives. Acting normal is a full time job waiting on the next sucker punch from Stephaney. Literally. 

Tuesday morning, Cindy and I are Green Bay Unit thinking our latest “Stephaney Situation” is solved. 

Leaving Green Bay to Dr Richwine, by the time Cindy’s getting an EKG, Stephaney is calling to say she missed the bus and that the three hundred dollars worth of items we had just bought Monday are on the bus. Good Lord! We are at the doctor because of Stephaney’s latest sucker punch Monday and yet hours after getting her on the bus in Dallas she gets off in Oklahoma and misses the bus? 

Cindy and I both take a Xanax. The doctor wants bloodwork. We have no time. We leave the doctor to drive to Oklahoma and find Stephaney AGAIN. 

Hours from Fort Worth with no sleep after staying up all night to get Stephaney on that damn bus to Muskogee. I’m beyond exhausted. Cindy’s angina is killing her. I worry about Cindy. I’m always worrying about Cindy.

We find Stephaney at Choctaw Too Travel Center. Three hours from the rehab facility. Cindy and I have had less than two hours of sleep. I call the center to pick up Stephaney’s luggage from Greyhound. I want to cry but I can’t. I’m too angry. Stephaney ignores her mother and I by listening to her music. No apologies. No thank you. There never are with Stephaney.

At 4:37PM Tuesday, I cannot find the facility. We are in a corn field. I am having a meltdown. Cindy is silently crying. Stephaney is listening to music. I call the facility and ask them to meet me near Chateau at Hookers Restaurant. 

At 4:42PM, a car with two nice ladies pulls up next to us. Stephaney gets out. They invite Cindy and I to follow them to the facility. I decline by explaining “we are 6 hours from home. Wednesday morning I’m in Huntsville then Woodsville. Thursday, I’m in Pampas. I’m sorry but we have my son looking after Stephaney’s twin daughters and husbands worried about us getting home tonight. Thank you for meeting us.”

Without a goodbye, Stephaney walked to the other car…