Reporter’s notebook Part III: Chasing the happy ending
The torture of not knowing the end of the story, is not knowing the end.
When Mary first came home from the hospital, it seemed she was moving in the right direction.
By virtue of being in the hospital for two months, she had that time clean, and was feeling it. Sobriety translated to hope.
When she spoke, her eyes almost sparkled. There was a lilt in her voice.
I saw a person who you’d be friends with.
A clean Mary is fun and funny, with an unexpected charisma. I’m not sure I’ve ever known a drug addict to the extent of Mary’s addiction, but I was repeatedly surprised by her eloquence and insight.
She was, at times, disarmingly thoughtful.
But then she stopped returning our phone calls. For nearly a month, we didn’t speak to her.
We stopped by her mom’s house on Christmas Eve to see the family. By chance, Mary showed up while we were there.
It was the first time I saw the whirlwind effect she could have. She rushed in, showering her sons with gifts, and spent the entire time in a flurry of conversation, kisses and promises.
As quickly as she swooped in, she was off again.
Brad was sure she was high. I’d hoped she wasn’t. But she confirmed later that she’d been using again, leaving because she needed to score more dope.
As Mary retreated back into her old life, the one that revolved around getting high, it became increasingly more difficult to stay in touch.
Most of her communication came in the form of midnight text messages to Brad. She’d make appointments when we could meet, then she wouldn’t show up.
As hard as I’d tried to keep an emotional distance, my heart ached for her, and for the boys who wanted a mother to love them more than she loved speed.
I also had professional disappointment. I could see my storybook ending riding off into the sunset.
I didn’t think it was fair to ask readers to invest their time and emotions in a story that would lead them through dark places. And I worried about my own abilities to go to those places.
But after much deep consideration and late-night conversations, Brad and I came to a conclusion: We would tell the real story.
In 2005, Carson City leaders declared battling methamphetamine as their top priority.
We decided to do our best to bring the issue to light in the most truthful way we could. No more anticipating how it all would end.
We set aside expectations and deadlines, and just followed Mary.
It would end with the end, whenever and wherever that came.