are you alright?

My friend Kate and I saw Lucinda Williams at the Keswick Theater last night. She was great, and the Keswick is one of the best places to see a concert. It's a small, intimate theater - we were sitting in the 3rd row from the stage.

If you don't know Lucinda, you must listen to some of her songs. She's an incredible song writer. One of her new songs, "Are You Alright", is one of my favorites - it reminds me of a little boy who holds a special place in my heart.

To make a {very, very} long story short, his mother was a childhood friend of mine. She was a drug addict and had three children that she wasn't taking care of. I would take care of her middle child, Artie {starting at 4 months old}, at first to give her a break, but then eventually it turned into her expecting me to watch him every weekend. And I did - she wasn't taking care of him and by that time I felt like I couldn't just walk away. Not only would he stay with me on weekends, but I also volunteered at his schools {he had many - they moved around a lot} and sent him to camp a few summers.

{Artie and Malayna, 2004}

In 2000, his mother fell further into her addiction and Jimmy and I got custody of all three of her children {they were 9, 10 and 12 years old}. Two of them lived with us for 2 1/2 years and Artie stayed for five years, until 2005. Those five years were absolutely chaotic, but we really felt like we were doing the "right thing". There was a lot of rebellion from the kids - some of it normal teenage stuff, but most of it a result of the situation we were all in.

In 2005, our relationship with Artie was suffering. He had been getting into trouble in school and with the police. His family was conveniently absent for much of those five years, except to tell him that Jimmy and I weren't his family and that he should be with them. I still don't understand their reasoning. They didn't step up when the kids needed them, yet they didn't hesitate to put us down and poison our relationship with all three kids.

There were threats from his family about taking us to court for custody of Artie if we didn't let him go live with them. Since Artie wanted to go and we honestly felt like we didn't have a leg to stand on in court against his relatives, he went to live with an aunt. We lost touch for a while, which was sad since I had been in his life since he was a baby. {By the way, he didn't even stay with the aunt for a whole year before she kicked him out.}

I only talk to him once in a while, and I suspect he only calls when things are good for him. He's had a hard life already, including at least one stay in a rehab. He now lives with his grandparents, and when I leave a message for him I wonder if he gets it.

I can only hope that the love we showed him all those years means something.

Are You Alright

Are you alright?
All the sudden you went away.
Are you alright?
I hope you come back around someday.
Are you alright?
I haven't seen you in a real long time.
Are you alright?
Could you give me some kind of sign.
Are you alright?
I looked around me and you were gone.
Are you alright?
I feel like there must be something wrong.
Are you alright?
'Cause it seems like you disappeared.
Are you alright?
'Cause I been feeling a little scared.
Are you alright?

Are you sleeping through the night?
Do you have someone to hold you tight?
Do you have someone to hang out with?
Do you have someone to hug and kiss you,
Hug and kiss you,
Hug and kiss you?
Are you alright?

Are you alright?
Is there something been bothering you?
Are you alright?
I wish you'd give me a little clue.
Are you alright?
Is there something you wanna say?
Are you alright?
Just tell me that you're okay.
Are you alright?
'Cause you took off without a word.
Are you alright?
You flew away like a little bird.
Are you alright?
Is there anything I can do?
Are you alright?
'Cause I need to hear from you.
Are you alright?


Are you alright?
Are you alright?


ahna said...

This hurts my heart. I love Lucinda Williams, and this song really captures so much.
I teach theater in an elementary arts magnet. We are an inner city school, and some of these kids come from so much pain and sorrow. I only see them during the day, and then I send them back into the sometimes war zone that is their home life. I can not imagine what sorrow you feel sending someone you love into a situation that can not be a good one. It's hard to let go, and even when the fight must go on, it's so painful. I can only guess from the way that you write, you carry your affection for these children deep in your heart. They are lucky for that. And for having you love them as you have, they will be forever changed.

Galadriel Thompson said...

Lisa, this just breaks my heart. What amazing and inspiring people you are. I just know that the love you gave those kids, especially Artie, has made a big difference in their lives. Hopefully some day they will let you see it.

KB said...

Aww, your post made me tear up a bit. It sounds like you all were a positive spot in those kids' lives for a while, and I'm sure they know it. Maybe someday when they get away from the negative forces they'll fully realize what you did for them and get back in touch.

Anonymous said...

Artie will grow up a better person for having you, Jimmy and your parents in his life. I remember SO far back, you taking Artie when he was just a teeny tot, and you never even thinking twice about it... expecting nothing in return.
Some day, he'll realize everything that you did for him, and wish that things could have gone differently. Continue to love him from a far Lisa, and know that in his heart of hearts, he knows it...

lisa {milkshake} said...

Thank you for your comments and support. It really means a lot to me! (I wish I knew who you were, anonymous!)