We dubbed March 15th "Jaralene Day" because it fell between my son Jaran’s and Jolene's birthdays (born four years and two days apart).
A month ago we experienced the first faint alarms that the most recent upset with Jolene was more serious than many others we endured over the years.
Since we were unable to call, we drove to Jolene's apartment. I went to her apartment. I rarely did so; once when I visited, the elevator that carried me up five floors stopped working when I needed to leave. When you're disabled as I am, walking down five flights of stairs is difficult. I avoided repeating that experience. But on Saturday, I made the effort.
I knocked on the door—heavy knocks, raps with a brass door knocker. I waited a minute, then knocked again. After trying several more times, I left a message on her door. Mom and I had brainstormed for a way to attach the paper to her door; we ended up using an address label. As best as I can remember, I said, Jolene, I understand your phone's not working. Hope you're having a good day! Call me when you get home and we'll get together. Love, Mom.
I expected a phone call some time that afternoon; Jolene rarely missed a time we planned to get together.
Of course she didn't call, and we started to worry. What had happened between Thursday morning and Saturday that would make her angry enough to withdraw from me? She had withdrawn off and on over the past few months. Or had something else happened?
I knew it was hopeless to ask the apartment manager for a key to her apartment; we had been down that road the previous summer, when Jolene had been arrested. They would not allow me in because Jolene had not listed me on her lease. I felt helpless.
Even so, we thought one of three things had happened. One: Jolene was with her boyfriend (in which case she was avoiding us on purpose). Two: Jolene was in a hospital (but if so, why hadn't she called?) Three: She had been jailed for breaking parole (in which case she couldn't call.) I'm not sure if the possibility of suicide even crossed our minds.
We were concerned enough to call Jaran and ask him to pray.
If we haven’t heard from her by Monday, we decided, we’ll call her social worker.