This I Believe

Marcella - Cincinnati, Ohio
Entered on November 7, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

“The single most important decision any of us will ever have to make is whether or not to believe that the universe is friendly.” — Albert Einstein

This I believe, that the universe is a friendly place.

Last winter when my son Jake was caught with drugs in his locker at school, I watched as the police put handcuffs on him and took him away in a squad car. I broke down and sobbed.

In that dark moment, I could have chosen to believe that Jake was following our family tradition and becoming an alcoholic… that he would end up in the gutter one day, a drug addict, his life over. But I chose not to.

I chose to believe that our family’s painful struggle with addictions would inform his future, but not define it. I chose to believe that the universe is not the dark and twisted abyss of unchecked addictions, but a loving eccentric family that does the best it can and often succeeds against all odds.

When my son was caught with drugs, I chose to believe that the universe was friendly and that it would find a way to care for him and it did. Jake’s many teachers and friends came to his defense. They did not excuse his behavior, but they chose to believe he would one day rise above it.

The school hearing officer took Jake’s file and locked it in his bottom drawer. He told Jake that if he got into trouble again, he wouldn’t hesitate to remove it, but that as long as Jake did the right thing, it would remain buried in his desk permanently.

We found a wonderful drug counselor who got through to Jake. Then the multi-thousand dollar bill for Jake’s counseling mysteriously disappeared, written off by the agency. Jake was never charged in court and my friend in the prosecutor’s office could find no trace of his arrest.

This benevolence was not lost upon my son. He spent time in counseling with children from the wrong side of the river and the wrong side of the tracks, kids who had committed crimes as serious as his or far less serious and were sent to juvenile detention centers or jail. He felt tremendous guilt about this, but he chose to believe the best way he could honor those kids was not to blow the chance he’d been given.

Thanks to another friend, Jake was accepted to a prestigious college prep high school, with tough academic standards and a strict discipline code. He spent hours each night on homework. He tried hard not to miss his old school which he had loved.

He created a relapse plan. He came to understand that his fascination and creative experimentation with drugs had lasting consequences for himself and others. He was not perfect, but when he stumbled, he got back up and tried again.

It has been almost a year since I stood sobbing in the office watching my son get carted away in handcuffs. Today Jake’s permanent record shows an honor student and athlete who has fought hard to relinquish his obsession with drugs. He has the passion of his convictions, an active mind, and a rich academic life.

This I believe, that the universe is a friendly place.