Face to Face.

Face to Face..

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Face to Face.

Face to Face..

Face to Face.

Last night I blogged on part of my experience with my oldest son.  Remembering that is still with me even as both my children are up at 7:30 am on a weekend-raring and blaring.  This time it is Star Wars battle droids and warfare.  I never have any idea who is winning or for what we are fighting, much less what my response should be when they ask for direct order from their commander.  HUH?

As I listen to them play their DS on the davenport I can’t help but think of both of them and the last year we have traveled.   I know that I will never forget the impact having my son in the hospital had on my outlook.

You see, I pride myself on being a strong and capable woman, one who can face any trial or obstacle, stare it down and come out on top of the game.  I not only thrive on the challenge of obstacles, there is a certain element of crave that goes into play.  This last year stripped me bare of all that I thought I believed about myself and a faith I touted.

Many of us have this idea that God is all love all the time.  This is true, but there are other attributes of God that I experienced as my son sat in a hospital that I never knew existed.  For all my knowledge, talent, and talk I felt small. I felt helpless and ineffectual.  I hated that.  I blamed myself for where my son was and I blamed him for having something that I could not control.  Yes, I said I blamed my son. Part of me cannot believe I just typed that, yet there are times when I think back on that horrific week that I remember hating what drove him to act in such a manner.  Never ever did I hate my son, but rather what was happening to his body and soul.  Even now as I type this he has interrupted me at least a dozen times with loud and obnoxious comments about not wanting to live in this family anymore, that we hate him.  Most of the time I can ignore it and wait for his calm to return.  Yet, there are times when I want to know what it is like to have a quiet morning in my home–where I can breathe without wondering what issue might blow up next.

Most of all I blamed myself for not being enough.  I had all the knowledge and compassion and it made not one bit of difference.  I was a student of faith, studying for a future in pastoral care and counseling, received training on family systems and chaplaincy–it mattered not.  No amount of what I knew could prepare me for how to feel when those doors closed and I left my son on the other side.  I blamed myself for not being the kind of mom that would instinctively know what was happening and come up with some creative and sure-fire plan to fix it.  After all, that is what our kids expect us to do when something hurts.  They come to us with their boo-boos and we fix it; most of the time.  There are still times when I feel like I have failed him.

I have heard multiple theories from others about what he may or may not have, as well as what causes it.  I have heard some tell me that it was because of medicine I may have taken when I was pregnant with him,  Others have commented that it must be the fact that I am adopted and probably passed it down to him from my own DNA.  Still other comments are steeped in wondering about him having a brain tumor .  None of these is or was the case.  They only served to make me feel worse about what I was or was not doing to help him.

I talked earlier about the door.  I had passed through this door with my own key fob countless times, yet I still recall the sound of that door as it closed as clearly as yesterday,  It was the loudest, most lonely sound I have ever heard.  I never knew that silence could rip through silence like that.  I did not look back, I did not want to see that which separated me from my son.  In that moment I wondered where my God was.   I wanted the ground to open and swallow me right there and not return me.  I felt small, I felt forgotten and alone.  I was convinced that I had done something horrible for an all-loving God to let this happen.  Then the words of my theology professor came to mind, “Remember the so that.”  So that.  Bad things do not happen SO THAT a ministry will happen somewhere else down the road.  It happens and it stinks, and sometimes there is no right and easy answer.

In the moments that that door slammed shut behind me I grew up in my mind.  On that I will comment more later.  As I imagined what my son would face in the days ahead, I hurt.  There was nothing in my power that would solve this situation, the fury was palpable.  In hindsight, he was in the right place at the right time and in the hands of some incredible people.  I knew their strength and passion for caring, after all, I was also one of them.  I chose not to work any hours while he was in the hospital.   While I crossed the parking lot, I had to trust and that was the hardest lesson.  So,  I end this post having calmed my own charges in the last 2 hours….ADD meds have kicked in and my oldest is no longer climbing the walls and there is a bit of peace as they both watch Shelldon on Saturday morning cartoons.  I am positive I will post later, so stay tuned.

Shalom.

cahl

Free Admission? Not so much.

Free Admission? Not so much..

Free Admission? Not so much.

I am pensive today.  The countdowns on all the television stations are in full swing and the news programs are winding down the best and worst stories of the year.  While I contemplate Occupy wherever and all the political mumbo jumbo, my thoughts turn in to something else.

This night a year ago, I admitted my oldest son to the behavioral unit at a local mental facility.  I was doing my chaplain residency hours there and had spent hours and hours working with the staff on the various floors.  I knew these people there as colleagues and this night of nights I was reduced to another parent at their wit’s end with nowhere else to turn.

The roads and grassy areas are barren without snow, a different picture to the impending blizzard we experienced 365 days ago.  I drove a borrowed 4 wheel drive vehicle and made the half hour trek with my son in the back seat.  It was not until days later that a friend commented that it was a miracle that my son stayed in control during the drive…it could have been a dangerous trip.  I didn’t even think of it as I careened down the interstate covered in ice.

We had been told by his doctor that if he happened to lose control it would be time to bring him in to calm him enough to figure out how best to help him.  I remember telling my husband this and feeling a bit belittled when he poo pooed my concern for my son’s increasing rage.  It was only after he wigged out on my husband because a DVR show did not record all the way that my husband agreed he needed help we could not give him.

I packed his bags with hardly a word and watched the  transformation in my son take place.  He went from bouncing off the walls threatening his family to happily eating pudding in the hall.  I stood, transfixed, not believing that this was happening.

Into the initial intake room we were ushered  and the questioning began.  My son climbed from the chair to the table to the floor back to the table and back again, repeatedly.  It was hard to carry on a conversation as I kept one eye on him and the other on keeping myself in check.  Within minutes of the intake interview, the doctor’s orders were to admit him.

People assume that you are automatically admitted, it is not the case.  After the  interview, the doctor has to review the information and decide if admittance is the best option.  In this case, it was.

One of my lifelong friends came to join me in this venture and brought me some strong mocha as my son and I were ushered down the hall to the children’s wing.  I had spent so many hours walking these halls, my first encounter when I did my clinical was on the children’s wing…I remember the young man’s name and it all came flooding back to me as I sat in the room waiting for the nurse on duty.  I smiled when I saw him.  He was a kind and strong nurse, capable of talking truth out of his own experience.  I tried not to look in his eyes as I looked over the paperwork.  They took my son to another room to be weighed and measured, and to have all shoes and belts and ties taken from him.  They went through his luggage to make sure he had nothing that would be harmful and they showed him his room.  The floor was quiet, all the other children had gone to bed for the night.  I signed all the necessary paperwork, sighed back a sob and put on my brave face for my son.

He was happily bouncing on the bed, the violent rage subsided.    He had his own bathroom, a sink, a desk, all the comforts of home…sure.  I placed sheets and his comforter on his bed.  His favorite stuffed animal, Mr. Rattles, and his prayer shawl were unpacked for him and he smiled as he settled down to rest.  I sat next to him and talked quietly to him.  I said prayers for him, just as I have done every night since he was born, I prayed for his dreams and then I kissed him on his forehead and headed out the door.

I was me in these moments, not chaplain or student, but mom….so I waited for the nurse on duty to walk me through the hallways and out the front entrance.  The door.  The door banged shut behind me–an ominous sound, so final, so—done.

My friend and her husband walked out with me, I could not speak…did not return to their house with them.  I got in the borrowed car, fiddled with the keys, cursed a blue streak when I could not find the lights, and sobbed my  way back home.

I continued sobbing most of that night.  I walked in the door to find my youngest in bed with his father, waiting up for mom.  I could not say anything, I just stammered down the hallway to the darkened livingroom and sat.  I could not go into my son’s room, could not touch his bed, see his pillow and blanket there without him cuddled within them.  Part of my heart and soul was in a place I could not reach and it hurt worse than anything I have ever felt in my life.  It still does.  I angrily swipe at tears that course down my cheeks even now–remembering.

That was a night of pure hell, a night where I did not sleep, could do little else but sob and wish the gods would reverse their courses.  I do not know how long I sat in my dark room, the computer was on my lap, I could not type….I sat, stone cold and hurting for a little boy who could not control what was happening and I could not fix it.  If he were in any other situation,  I would be with him, this was the one journey in which I could not join him.  I still can’t.

I have kept a running journal for both my children.  I write to them on the birthday date each month–I write about what they are doing, how they are growing, things I want to say to them or things I want them to remember.  I have yet to write to my either of my children about this.  A year later, I still cannot tell him what it was like to have him there.  Many of the saints and martyrs of the faith, male and female, describe the night I encountered as a “Dark night of the soul.”  I never understood what that meant until that evening.  As people around the world celebrated a new year, I cried rivers for a son that I could not help.  It left me feeling helpless and alone, there are times that I still feel that way when I watch him.  I fear what his future will look like, I worry that I have not done enough–have not equipped him or protected him from what he may experience.  It leaves me to rely on faith…and that is hard.

So, tonight I remain pensive and a bit pissy about nothing in particular and everything at the same time.  I choke back my own tears as I watch the kids play battleship and the dog smacks on a chewy at my feet.  I know that I will write more on this topic this weekend.  If for no other reason than to put thoughts to paper so as not to stuff them too much longer.

He is better than he was a year ago, not all the kinks out of the armor yet, but I am confident that we will be stronger even another year from now.  Mental illness does not just affect those with the diagnosis, it wreaks havoc on those watching and caring for the person.  I know of only one current diagnosis for my nearly eight year old, i watch with bated breath to see if our other suspicions will ring true.  I pray with all that I am that the cruel hands of mental illness leave my son alone…at this time that is all I can do.  Pray.

I did not write this out of pity or out of a pathetic need to blather my story all over the internet.  Those that feel compelled will read, maybe comment.  I know grandma will read and if she gets this far, a shout out to you…;-)  This weekend will prove difficult for me as I remember the road we have traveled in the last year.  If by chance something here spoke to your heart, then his journey and mine will have not been in vain.  By the way for one week admittance to this fancy hotel, one can expect to pay over 18,000 for just the bed and room.  Other amenities such as food, medicine, and doctor visits are added as deemed necessary.  With that tidbit in mind, let’s reform health care so as to benefit as many as possible…(there no more politics tonight)

Blessings to you as you wrap up 2011 and may your 2012 prove more than you ever dreamed possible.

Shalom dear readers,

cahl

Hiccup

I cannot tell you what my early home life was like.  I know few specifics and those that I do know are not the most pleasant.  It seems that multiple generations lived in my home and the family connections were not the strongest.  State adoption records shed some light on a few specifics.  The department of social services mentioned involvement with my biological family dating back two years before my birth and that a sister had also had a baby and placed it up for adoption just before my birth.  When I look at the black and white facts surrounding my early days I feel conflicted.  On one hand I see in print the back and forth condition to which I was subjected.  Direct record documentation states, “Her mother had her for fourteen days and then requested that we place her in foster care.  She remained in foster care for twenty-five days, four days of which were spent in the hospital as a result of severe diarrhea.  She was then returned home to her natural mother who then placed her back in foster care ten days later after failing to assume the responsibilities of her child.  She remained in foster care for two months when her mother requested her return for the third time.  After caring for the child for twenty-four hours, the natural mother asked that we take permanent custody of the child.”  By February 1975 all parental rights of my natural mother and all alleged fathers was terminated.

This is only a hiccup of chapter 2….i am purposely not posting in any order, but taking a paragraph here and there in an effort to elicit some response.  Feeling weird as I have received no response….not sure if I keep writing or bag it since there are no comments….dunno.  Then again, a writer must write, so maybe I do not publish any more paragraphs…maybe no one is interested….who knows?

Shalom,

cahl

A snippet of Chp 1

A snippet of Chp 1.

A snippet of Chp 1

Physically I was a small child; records show that I was also a sick child, with a tendency for bad stomachs and not keeping food down.  As a result, by the time I was six months old I had not gained much weight and it appeared I was anemic.  Research shows that for premature babies, the catch up rate for growth can be well past twelve years for some systems and organs.  If that is true, then some of the early difficulty I had in comprehension and agility was simply my body trying its hardest to catch up with the other systems.  The lack of coordination, walking on tiptoes, clumsy young toddler that I was could have been trying my hardest to make sense out of what was foreign.  To be honest, I still do not cut with any great precision, and I have given up caring.

What I do understand now is the inner workings of the human body.  It takes concentrated time and effort to create such delicate and intricate pieces of art.  The more I watch my own children, the more I understand that this work, premature or not, could not have happened by accident or mere coincidence.  The timetable may look different in every case, but the beauty of the inner soul and spirit contained in human flesh is a mystery I will never fully understand.  This realization has been long in coming, thirty-seven years and two children long, in fact.

 

The above couple of paragraphs are from Chp 1 of my writing…thoughts, questions, comments? Leave it as you wish–or not.

Shalom indeed,

cahl

A teaser

A teaser.

you know you’re in small town…..

While picking up my car from an oil change, we passed by a very large man, clad with coveralls and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth…His car painted Dukes of Hazzard General Lee!!! I giggled to myself as his beefy arm hung out the window at the end of December in South Dakota.

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