Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tall Enough To Ride This Ride

I remember as a kid how much fun it was to go to the amusement park. I’d stand outside the fence looking at all the rides and was always drawn to the big wooden rollercoaster. For years I would run to the entrance to the ride to measure myself against the height requirements and time and time again I would find that I wasn’t big enough. When I was finally tall enough to ride that big wooden rollercoaster I got on it and found myself terrified as it rounded bends and dipped down hills throwing me off of my seat and into the bar across my lap.

Years down the road I found myself with my little 4-year-old Thomas. There we were at Disneyland and standing in front of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad—a rollercoaster with the theme of an old train barreling through mountainous terrain and deep into mines. Thomas was a HUGE fan of trains and wanted to ride it so badly. He hit the height requirement right on and we boarded the ride.






There my boy sat beside me, excited for the ride to start. We rolled out of the station and began the climb up the hill. What ensued would be a metaphor for what he and I face now.

Into the dark we went and he grabbed me and huddled close. He took my hand and covered his eyes with it as we passed by menacing looking miners and other characters. As the ride careened around and through the mountains I felt him slide away from me to the other side of the car and I grabbed him and tried to hold onto him with each curve that tried to rip him from my grasp. His terror was palpable and my desperation to keep a hold of him and keep him safe next to me grew exponentially as each moment passed. We rolled into the station gripping each other, tears rolling from his eyes and we couldn’t get off that ride fast enough.

There we stood on the exit ramp weakened mentally and physically from a wild ride. I held his hand as we left the ride area, never to return.

So here we are now. He is 18, I am 41. He is still my boy and I am his mom. Our “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” is schizophrenia and it threatens often to rip him from my grasp and now, no matter how much I cover his eyes, I can’t protect him from the things he sees and that haunt him. We are both tall enough to ride this ride and I think both of us would give just about anything to walk up to the proverbial sign and find ourselves refused a ride on this ride because we’re too big, too old, too ANYTHING to move up the ramp to the train. But we’re here now, both of us unsure of what lies before us but one thing I know for certain.

I am getting on this ride with him and it will be him and I till the ride stops.

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