Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Who Is He, Really?

With the loss of my daddy I have been giving some thought to what would happen if I lost someone else in my life? What would I miss? What would I have wished I had said before they left? What would I want to have known about them? It's funny because you really do take someone's life for granted, their actual living. Unless they're dying of something like cancer and you know the end is near, you actually don't give much thought to the fact that you might lose them someday. All of these questions got me to thinking about Thomas and how much I know him. He's such a quiet, stoic soul and when I thought about all of my questions the other day I realized that if I were to have to write a eulogy or something for him, I don't know what I would say. I wouldn't want the sum of his existence to be that he fought a valiant fight against schizophrenia. This illness is not what defines him even though it seems to be dominating his life and my thoughts since he got sick. I do wonder though, who is this kid who sits in his room all day and plays World Of Tanks and Minecraft and gets lost in YouTube videos? Who is he really?

On our way up to see Dr. N. on Thursday the sadness of those questions overwhelmed me and I thought that I ought to start getting to know my son. The thing about Thomas though is that he's very short spoken (if that's a thing). You ask him how he is and you get,


You ask him how his day went and you get,

"I don't remember."

You ask him what he thinks of something and you get,

"I don't know."

He's actually very hard to talk to but I thought I'd start with the big questions and see if I could open a dialogue about the bigger things in life. I asked him what his dreams were for himself and he said he wanted to go to college. I asked him what he wanted to study (which I knew this but thought I'd ask anyway hoping it would open the dialogue more) and he told me he wanted to study political science. Whenever he tells me his area of study I recoil in a way because I know why he wants to study that. I know the reasons behind that degree and I know it's fueled by his illness. I hate that because I would like for him to dream somewhere beyond his paranoia and delusion-filled mind but even that day, when I wanted answers about his dreams for the future, I had my answer already and I was so disappointed. I guess what I wanted to hear was something more in line with wanting a family or having a job that made a difference in the world. I know, who am I to say that his schizophrenia filled thoughts won't somehow make a difference but I wanted to hear something healthier come from that mind of his.

I then asked him how he saw himself in the future, like where he would be in 20 years, and I was met with a long silence and then,

"I don't know."

Were my questions too big for him? I don't know but I felt a desperation to hear something more from him. So, we rode along in silence listening to his music that he had chosen for the ride and as I listened I realized the songs were telling me a story about his state of mind. A lot of them were about feeling frustrated with the world and with himself. Some talked about how tired he was of life and how scared he was. Some were throwbacks to a time he sees was a good time in his life (the 90's) and some were just downright funny songs. I realized in his music, in the conversation-less ride, he was telling me exactly who he is and what he feels. I had a window on his world and yet it gave me no solace because there seemed to be so much turmoil in those songs and consequently, in his mind.

I came away from that drive knowing little more than I already did about him. Short of asking him his favorite color or his favorite food, I really had nothing more than I already knew and what I know breaks my heart. Perhaps what I mourn about him having this illness is that there used to be so much light behind those brown eyes of his, so much promise. He was going to join the Navy and work in submarines. He was going to marry and have kids and he already had their names picked out. He was going to be so many things and yet this illness took those things from him.

So, honestly, I don't really know what I would write about him if he were to leave this life. I don't want his life to be a reflection of this nasty, unfair illness and yet, true to form, it has it's grip on my boy's mind and it's tenacious and apparently determined to be the one that decides who my boy will be and what he wants in life. I know one thing for sure though, what it doesn't have is love. Like fairy tales say, good always wins over evil and love will light any darkness. If I were to lose him there will be one thing I will have that nobody and nothing can take away from me. I will have his love, his heart, his rare but beautiful smile and I will have the hugs he asks for constantly. Love lights our darkness and if schizophrenia is the evil in this scenario, I know that I will never stop fighting it with and for my Thomas.

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