Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Who Do You See?

I was just recently offered a chance to write for a national online news magazine. I was ecstatic to be able to do it. I sat yesterday and proceeded to write Thomas' story and mine since he was born. Each story was attached to a photograph in my mind of the moments of his childhood and youth. It was, needless to say, in many ways, a difficult journey to take. From seeing my baby boy in my arms after him being born to him playing with his Thomas The Tank Engine trains, to flying kites on the beach, to now the moments that pointed toward some indicator that he was getting sick. I know I have said this before but there did come a point when I watched Thomas disappear. He grew out his hair pretty long, he grew a mustache and beard, he had dark circles around dark haunted eyes and the clothes he wore became strange ensembles of solid white head to toe. Time was passing by and I was watching as he disappeared.

Since then he has gotten his hair cut short, he will still only wear certain clothes, his eyes are still haunted but tired now from the anti-psychotic sedation and a smile out of him is a rare anomaly most often only coming when he laughs to himself in random moments where no outside stimuli warrant such a reaction.

I write his life story and I remember my boy from the ages of birth to 12 and I see an average (but unique--after all he is my special one) kid and then suddenly...the change into someone I don't recognize.

What happened?

I often ask myself, "who do you see?"

Well, I see Thomas, I see my son who stands before me each night and asks for a hug. The thing is, though, I see schizophrenia too. Now I'm the first to say, "you are not your label" and I do not mean that Thomas is his label however who I see most times is akin to a bullet riddled body, a young man with holes punched through him by schizophrenia's unrelenting march to consume what is left of the boy I once knew. Who I see is a kid who rarely hangs out with friends, who is glued to his computer, who just downloaded a video game he loved as a 4 year old child and is playing it even though he is 19, I see a kid who switches from one love of something to another love of something, to adamant distaste for another something then to nothing at all, just a kid sitting on the front porch listening to music and staring at the neighborhood. Who I see is a stranger to me in many ways even though I know with every fiber of my being that he is my son and I love him.

The thing is, I think all of us here have lost our loved ones. I think we all asked "who do I see?" pretty often and I think coming to terms with the "familiar stranger" in our home will be something we will never get used to.

I write Thomas' life story for a magazine and I miss him terribly. Inside, though, I feel blessed that I have him still, that his essence remains, sometimes buried, but I have him.

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