The counsellors knew they were in a precarious position. Reckless intervention would do untold damage. Dash needed Ascent to start the work, and he needed the two-year residential program at Cascade to continue it, Lana said. I felt a fleeting, hollow victory, knowing I had been right about how sick my son really was, but mostly it just added another layer of fear to have it confirmed in such a clear way, by a specialist like Lana. I knew that, if Dash was to be free emotionally, he would have to be strong enough to withstand what he had been through, and I worried for a moment that he never would be. But I told myself that this was just my fear speaking. I knew he was being nurtured at Ascent. He was getting help. If he could do his six weeks there, then move smoothly on to Cascade, Dash would get there. I couldn't let myself believe anything else.
When Lana hung up, I tried to steady myself for the boys. My knuckles were white from gripping the phone as I drove, crying, through the October drizzle to the boys' school. I searched my thoughts. I was very frightened. My son was damaged beyond belief and had a long climb back to health ahead of him. He may not ever fully heal. But there was another thing, too; I felt it inside me. It sidled up alongside the hope I always managed to find. I felt empowered. Somehow I even felt strong. I knew Dash was in the right place. I knew he was going to be okay. It had taken twelve years, but I had made the right decision for him, despite the personal cost from which I would probably never recover. He might never speak to me again and was lost to me, at least for now, but he wasn't lost to himself. He would find his way back. I got to the school and my boys flew down the hill into my arms, brimming with their day's news and excited about our trip to Whistler. I hugged them tightly as they chattered on and let myself get caught up in their world. My family, for the first time in years, was whole. I had Dave, I had my boys, and Dash was finally safe. What I felt, more than anything else, was joy.