You Can Never Go Home Again

February 14th, 2021

“She can not live with you any more. You know that. Right?”

Several people from the Child Protection Service (CPS) us asked that question. Karin and I know that the Asher’s mom cannot live with us again, at least not until such a time as when the young woman can prove to CPS that she can safely care for her little boy. Karin and I aren’t too bothered by the fact that the young woman is currently banned from our house (except to visit Asher). In a way, the girl’s absence is neither good nor bad. It just is.

The situation feels much different to the young woman. She freaked out about the rule from CPS when I told her about it during a phone call.

“Where will I live? I will freeze on the street! What will I do?!”

I tried to comfort the girl by explaining to her that Karin and I would not let her freeze in the dark. She responded by saying,

“You let me freeze on Bly Mountain.”

Oh yeah. That.

The young woman often comments on her two month stay on Bly Mountain in Oregon. Back in the fall of 2015, she had an extremely negative experience at a Christian, Bible-based rehab program. After she left that organization, Karin and I didn’t know what to do. We were all out of ideas. The young woman was out of control at home, and we couldn’t think of anywhere else for her to go. Finally, her cousin offered to take her in, if we could bring the girl to Oregon. The cousin and her husband were homesteading/weed growing on Bly Mountain in the Cascades. So, Karin and I flew with the young woman to Oregon, and she stayed in a trailer on the cousin’s property on the mountain in the depths of winter. The young woman survived that ordeal and returned to Wisconsin after several weeks. However, she has not forgotten about the experience, and she likes to remind us of it. Maybe she should.

I have tried to explain to the young woman that the question of her future accommodations is something to be handled at a later date. First, we have to find out where she is going for treatment, and for how long. There are other burning issues that have to be resolved before she gets a new address.

The young woman’s anxiety is understandable. She has always felt that our house, in particular her bedroom, was a safe harbor. At some point in the future, it may be one again, but not now. She won’t be sleeping in her own bed until the State of Wisconsin lets her do so.

Looking at it from a larger perspective, she is not the only person who can’t go home. I never got to go home once I joined the Army. I went to West Point in July of 1976. My parents sold their house shortly thereafter. They didn’t even tell that they sold the house until I was due to come back home for Christmas break. I eventually came back to my family, but I never again entered the house where I had been raised. Now, after 45 years, the structure still stands on 82nd Street in West Allis. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to go through the front door of that house. It’s not my home any more. I would only find ghosts hiding in those old rooms.

I remember the last time I went to visit Karin’s family in Germany. That was in 1998. We stopped to see Karin’s aunt and uncle. Tante Aga and Onkel Kurt had grown up prior to WWII in Silesia, which is now part of Poland. They were unable to return to their home town after the war ended. When the Berlin Wall fell, and communism collapsed in Poland, Kurt and Aga finally made the journey back to Silesia. Kurt told me about how disappointed they had been with the experience. He said,

“Polnisch! Polnisch! Polnisch! Kein Deutsch mehr!”

“Polish! Polish! Polish! No more German!”

The town was still physically there, but it didn’t match any of their memories. The home of their youth no longer existed, except in their own minds. I think that fact hurt them more than if they had never had the opportunity to return to Silesia

The young woman will get to be with Asher in our house. She will have the chance to be with her son, as often as she likes, or as often as we can handle it.

But she won’t come home.

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