Dylan was admitted to rehab on a Monday. That night Bird texted me, worried. She said Dylan had called and told her the rehab facility was horrible. The cook hadn’t shown up for dinner and they had to make themselves sandwiches. Bird told me Dylan was afraid, because many of the other kids in the facility were wearing ankle monitoring bracelets and tattoos.

I had much more faith in Dylan being able to navigate rehab than Bird did. Dylan made friends wherever he went. I suspected Dylan was embellishing the story trying to get Bird to rescue him. But I was also worried. I hadn’t met the other kids there. I wondered if I should have looked into other rehabs.

Tuesday at 4pm I received a call from the director of the facility. Dylan was gone. He’d taken off running when they went outside to play basketball. They had called the police to report him as a runaway. The director told me that all we could do now was wait.

I hadn’t anticipated this, although I probably should have. On some level I must have because it was indeed my worst fear. I called Bird to tell her the news. She was angry. “I knew this was going to happen!” she said before hanging up.

Soon after it started pouring down rain. I imagined Dylan out in the streets somewhere without cover. In all of Dylan’s 15 years I had never felt so desperate and powerless. I called the police and told them where I thought he might be. Surely he would go to his favorite hangout, the place where he got his drugs. The police called me back a short time later. The officer’s voice on the other end said he was at Dylan’s hangout.

“There is no one here that fits his description, Ma’am” he said matter of factly.

Later that evening I drove to his hangout myself. I talked to some of the people there. They all said they knew Dylan, and were surprised to learn he was only 15. No one had seen him for several days. Bird and I were texting back and forth, asking each other if there was any news. Finally it seemed there was nothing left to do except to go to bed.

I slept uneasily and woke to a text from Bird asking me if I had heard anything. There was nothing. Bird texted that she was driving around “blindly” looking for him. It was Wednesday and I spent the day in a state of despair, immobilized. Had I caused this situation by putting Dylan in treatment? I tried to push away the thought that I might never see Dylan again. Suddenly having Dylan home safe, even on drugs, seemed preferable to not knowing where he was.

Dylan was set to appear in juvenile court that Friday, but his probation officer needed to serve him the summons. Bird had the P.O.’s name and number. I wanted to call him to alert him to the situation. I texted Bird three separate times asking her for the information. Each time she responded with a vague response and would not give me the number. It was extremely frustrating. Finally I called Dylan’s substance abuse counselor and she gave me the number.

Dylan’s P.O. told me he couldn’t speak to Bird without my consent because she did not have a legal connection to Dylan. He agreed to meet with me that day at 3 to discuss Dylan’s situation. Because Bird had withheld the information from me, I decided not to invite her to the meeting. She called me right before the appointment and I told her where I was.

I told her if she was not going to cooperate with me, I wasn’t going to include her. She was livid. I held the phone away from my ear when she began raising her voice. “You don’t understand, Jess! This is much more difficult for me because you are the one who has all the control.”

I didn’t care about control at that moment. I wanted Ian safe and back in treatment. Bird had been pulling this kind of shit with me for years, making me prod for answers to simple questions about Dylan.

I began to notice a pattern that occurred over and over again with Bird and Dylan. One or both of them would do something that would be considered bizarre or out of line in any “normal” setting. Take for instance, Bird withholding the P.O’s number from me. If I then made a choice in response, for instance, not inviting Bird to the meeting, one or both of them would get angry at me. Individually or together they would blame me for the entire incident, acting as if their actions had no effect whatsoever on the outcome. It’s like how Bird was supplying Dylan with weed, and simultaneously blaming me as the reason Dylan was using weed.

The P.O. told me that unless we could find Dylan, he wouldn’t be able to serve him. Without serving him, the court would have no power to remand Dylan back to treatment. Things were looking bleak. Time was moving very slowly. I wondered how long this could go on for. It felt like torture.

I began to feel suspicious of Bird. Was she hiding Dylan from me? She had stopped texting or calling me for information about where Dylan might be. I knew that if she didn’t know where Dylan was, she would be frantic. It seemed odd. And then it occurred to me. Bird had Dylan’s phone, the center of his universe. Or… did she still have his phone? Had she possibly slipped it to him during the admission process?

I texted her.

I was thinking this would be a good time to look at his phone to see who he was communicating with most recently

                                 Forgot I had it. I have to charge it

I would do that asap

                                 What’s his pin



My suspicion grew. Your child is missing and you forget that you have his phone? I thought on this for a while, until later that evening. All of the recent communication between Bird and I had been via text. I needed the truth. At about 8pm I called Bird.

It sounded like she was at a gas station or something. I asked her what she was doing. “Oh, I just got done going to a meeting,” she said, nonchalant. Her voice had that softness it gets sometimes. “Maybe she was going to Alanon?” I silently hoped.

“Oh”. I said, awkward. “I just, um wanted to say, or ask…If you knew where Dylan was, you wouldn’t hide it from me, would you?”

“Oh, no. No, I would never do that to you,” Bird replied reassuringly.


2 thoughts on “Losing Dylan: the escape

  1. Yeah…. Um – if you pay for Dylan’s phone, and have the account number and password, it’s easy enough to see if it’s in use. If it’s in Bird’s name, or a “pay as you go” you might have to get a warrant. My gut says she’s hiding him, but that doesn’t mean boo. I’m not really impressed with a treatment facility that isn’t well fenced, for the very reason you mentioned.
    I know – this is the absolute bitterest pill to swallow and the closest thing to hell you can possibly imagine. Hold Strong, Mama Bear.

    Liked by 1 person

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