I guess I will just take a breath and begin to tell my story which is his story also.
When my boy was born he was the sweetest lil guy I'll ever see in my life.
I had chosen his first name long before he was a part of my soul and my blood. I named him Thomas J (yes, just a "J") after the boy played by Macaulay Culkin in the movie "My Girl" . The reason I chose that name was because that boy in the movie was a sweet, kind, compassionate, thoughtful child and my hope was that I would have a child with similar qualities. My son was also given a Thai middle name chosen by his Thai grandmother Somkid (Yi) and her extended Thai family members. The name they chose for him was Suntri (pronounced soon-tee) and it meant: "quiet well-behaved child".
On November 1, 1994 he came to me without a cry to announce his entry into my world. I questioned if he was ok as they lifted him from my body and being because his silence was worrisome. They assured me he was healthy and I watched as they cleaned him up and examined him in preparation to put him into my waiting arms. I didn't know then that the absence of his cry and my concern and question about his health and happiness would be a glaring indication of how I would live the rest of my life with him.
I will say right now that from that point forward my entire life became about attempting to ensure his happiness and health; it's all I ever wanted for him then and all I will ever want for him in the future. Being a lawyer or a doctor or a garbage man or whatever, was his dream to choose, but whatever it was he was to become, I wanted it born from a seed of happiness and health and whatever he chose to become I would support as long as he was happy.
As time passed, throughout his life there were often silent questions for me about his health and happiness. I could never quite put my finger on what I felt wasn't quite right and came away with infinite answers to my questions, and an ethereal not knowing that would plague me until recently. Throughout his young life he fought off great fear and anxiety and transient depressive episodes but his fight was valiant and I often found him in my arms needing me to dust him off, put his feet solidly back on the ground, and send him back out into his world.
This is not to say--not even a little bit--that he wasn't happy. Seeing him smile for the first time, hearing the first musical sounds of his laughter, finding him pushing his beloved Thomas the Tank Engine train around it's wooden tracks, seeing him from my front window perched in a tree laughing with the neighbor boys, seeing him on the ocean shore tossing popcorn into the wind for seagulls in flight and watching with wonderment as they swooped and dove for his offerings...
|Cannon Beach, Oregon|
...seeing him contemplative by the river throwing rocks in or drawing swirls on the surface of the water with a stick, seeing him hand in hand with his first girlfriend, seeing him run off to a carload of teenagers waiting excitedly out in front of our house, all showed me the seed of happiness and health sprouting and growing inside of him.
There was always the nagging questions though.
For every handful of healthy, happy seeds planted there was a sickly, sad weed that would inevitably crop up marring the beautiful landscape of his presence. I would be in the garden pulling and tugging at the weeds with all of my might but they would be firmly rooted amongst the healthy sprouts and I would shake my fist at them, mutter a muted obscenity and return to tending the sprouts and maturing plants of his health and happiness.
As he aged I marveled at the garden of his being, lamented and cursed at the weeds but not once did I give up on tending to the maturing tree saplings, mighty sunflowers and other signs of happy, healthy life. It was those regal signs of health and happiness that would provide shade and respite for the moments when we needed to escape the hot, sweltering, glaring heat of the illness that would begin to chip away at the promise I had held onto for his future.
Just as he was on the cusp of entering adulthood--the prime of his life, the dark tendrils, the creeping voices, the uncertainty and fear of paranoid schizophrenia began to take over the beautiful garden I had tended to for 18 years.
This is my story but more importantly this is his story too and it is my battle cry at an insidious illness that I will make it my life's purpose to conquer for him or at the very least lessen it's blow on his burgeoning future.
(My Facebook Page About Schizophrenia)