Hello there ….
I know I have been quiet for a day and most of this one. Not because I am devoid of subject matter, but rather pondering whether I would dare to utter aloud (so-to-speak) that which in my heart. This blog post has been stewing inside my heart since Ducky commented on my post “Tomorrow’s Weigh In Day Yikes”, and my husband responded with a post of his own. Ducky’s comment (you can read it here) pulled at my heart, because it begs the question why am I on this journey, and what does it mean to me. What does it mean for my family? It is hard for you to understand what this means to me or the magnitude of what losing weight has meant for me and my family without this information that I am so hesitant to share. Do I dare lay this naked in such a public arena?
I think yes, because maybe one other soul might find our story and be lifted and find hope, hope for joy in their darkest hour and dare to live again.
My oldest son and my lovely new daughter texted me, yesterday, from Alaska to say they are expecting a baby boy. This is news so sweet I hardly have words to express the depths of joy over how wonderful this announcement truly is. There is a tiny part of my heart that is afraid if I share this news it will flit away in a puff of smoke. What does this news have to do with the question of why and what? Everything.
Should I really dig in and tell you this story? If you have read my About page you have some clue as to what I am referring. If you know me and our family story, you know why this has everything to do with the why and the what. Our family has walked down or climbed up a very treacherous cliff to stand where we do now. It depends upon your perspective of hardships. Everyone has them. No one is immune. I will warn you, if I do post this, and you dear reader choose to read my tale, it will be long and sometimes sad, because that is the reality of this story. We don’t live in sad and believe we are wonderful over-comers. We do not see ourselves as victims, and we savor every wonderful moment of life, the good and the bad. So dear reader, don’t worry or allow your heart to become heavy for us on this our life’s journey — remember we are always smiling — and that is real too.
Our family struggles didn’t begin with the birth of our youngest son, (because like most young people we made a few fabo decisions that created some trying moments for us to right), but our trials definitely intensified with his arrival. There were years of screaming and not understanding what we were dealing with until he was three, and many more years of screaming followed our enlightenment of his autistic condition. I was in the downward health spiral during our discovery of his condition. I became less and less able to get around; the fatigue was so great and my weight would increase with each new medication that we tried to correct the fatigue and other problems I was experiencing. We made great strides with Collin, even though discovery of autism at 3 years of age is more than half way through the age they say is critical to have a chance at functional child (I wouldn’t accept that, and they weren’t right in Collin’s case). I’m not sure I could have championed the ideas I had and we all acted out if I had known how hard it would be before we started. I am glad we all jumped in with blind faith that we could make a difference and didn’t listen to the doubts. BUT, all this takes a toll on everyone in the family. Chronic stressors affect the body, the mind, the will, and emotions. We were very close, and we all agreed to work as hard as we could to help the little man, and we did. He made wonderful progress, even if we were only objects to achieve his desires at this time.
However, Collin had this horrible problem of darting out in the direction of traffic. Terrifying. The day he was diagnosed as more autistic than the average autistic child, he made an escape from the building where I was trying to keep him while Mike retrieved our car. (I had a cracked knee, and I was wearing a brace). I grabbed his arm just in time to keep him from the jam-packed intersection only to lose my balance and fall on top of him, breaking his collar bone. Mike arrived to find a crowd of people gathered around us as we both lay crying on the concrete sidewalk. I couldn’t get up because I twisted my other ankle and jammed my wrist. All I could to was hold him; he didn’t like being held, but he was afraid of the other people so he clung to me with his now broken clavicle, popping it in and out like it was a game, making me hurt all over. This was not an isolated incident, but one of many painful journeys to a functional and amazing Collin. How do you get an autistic child NOT to move a broken clavicle? You know the blasted thing has to be kept still to heal. Autistic people tend to mess with sore spots because it calms down the outside stimuli, and at the rate he was going it would never heal. Well, I duct taped his arm to his body. You gotta love duct tape. Yes, we laughed about that along with the docs. My doc said between chocking laughter, “Yeah, Shonnie, thats what we orthro’s do, we duct tape children’s arms to their bodies.” He even admitted it was a great idea. The docs at the ER kept telling me he had to keep it still, while I kept explaining he was autistic, and he wasn’t going to stop moving it … they looked at me like I was nuts. So out came the duct tape and his arm healed right up. A girls gotta keep her sanity any way she can. You know me: I can’t leave it all sad, because I just can’t look at my life like that. It is my journey, and I wouldn’t change anything. 🙂
This leads up to the next extreme challenge. The accident. After the arm and another barely missed car incident, I mentioned to Mike how I wished there was a video that we could show Collin of a car hitting a person walking so that he would understand about darting from behind cars. Little did I know that he would get his up close and personal live demonstration of what happens when you dart in front of a moving car. At this time in Collin’s life, I could not go to the store alone, and that is another horrible story in itself: Going shopping with Collin took years of screaming for him to learn to go to stores and don’t even think about going to multiple stores on the same outing–long, long story on how we changed this behavior, but now back to the second major challenge. I promise all this is going somewhere.
It is going to the night my very handsome 19 year old son and his twelve year sister begged me to let her and Collin go with Will to play games with the youth group. They were going to be at a friend’s house; one parent was going to be there, and they assured me everything would be fine. I wanted to trust them, because there were no breaks for me unless my children gave them to me. No one wanted to take on Collin but my dear sweet children.
I believe they were always trying to care for me, my two girls that is. Will had just started growing into that place as a young man. He was beginning to grow into everything I had hoped for him; he looked at me with such proud (proud in a good way-that he had thought of something nice) eyes wanting to prove he was maturing. Smiling and telling me he would be able to handle it. I told myself that they will be in the country, there won’t be many cars, and they will be in the field playing their after dark tag. I was so proud he wanted to be a good big brother and take them with him, so I jumped and let go and said yes. That one decision changed all our lives forever. My poor baby girl and boy had front row seats to watch as our nightmare unfolded. They watched Will run towards Collin and be hit and thrown 40 feet by the car that was about to hit the younger sibling. They saw their hero twist and hurl and crash to the ground in a broken heap. What greater love has any man, but to lay down his life for a friend, my older son knew we had to run at Collin to make him change directions. He almost made it to safety, but there was a young driver at the wheel and he drove toward my son instead of away. My sweet baby girl had to call and tell us her brother was badly injured as she tried to pull the screaming, praying, autistic Collin off his big brother’s body, not knowing if he was alive or dead.
We were in a big box wholesale store at the checkout when her call came through. I paid for the groceries I had purchased, while Mike got the information about Will. Terror rose in my belly like a volcano. I don’t know if I shouted in panic or choked out the question, but I know I demanded to know if my children where all right. Mike turned green and his knees buckled as he shook his head no. I drove home, and we threw our purchases on the ground outside our apartment while giving Onnie instructions to pick up her sister as soon as she could drag and drop the stuff in the house. My head was spinning, my knees were weak, and I could hardly breathe. I had to get to my son to see if he was alive; the officer at the scene took the phone from my daughter to inform us where the life flight copter was taking our child. I don’t remember the drive. I remember the hospital waiting area and the ambulance sirens. It took years for me not to become ill when I heard a siren. I remember hearing the helicopter arrive and knowing my son was on board.
I waited to see what destruction awaited us as his body was rolled in and we were rushed down the hall. Was he alive? Was he okay? They greeted us with the news that there was bleeding on the brain and that he was unconscious. He would remain that way for four days and then he wouldn’t know who were for about as many more. This was the beginning of our trials, not the end.
My happy family disintegrated before my eyes like a cloud of smoke blown by a strong wind. My world changed that day and was never the same. Sometimes, even now, a strong fear rises in me that the good in my life will fade, be snatched from my arms before I am ready to see it go. It causes a body to embrace life or run from it. We chose the former. The events that followed this trauma are something quite fantastical, straight from the mind of a Steven King thriller or bizarre Dean Koonts novel. I blamed myself, my poor baby girl blamed herself, as did Mike and Onnie who had nothing to do with the decision. Our hearts were broken. Our family united was shattered, decimated, and we were struggling to find a reason to live.
I will tell you that in the middle of this horrible mess, came wonderful light and a few new terrifying hurdles to jump …
… And this finds us a third of the way through our story (well, of what I will tell) ……. Shall I continue?
Blessings …. S