Friday, October 15, 2010


This week, as the web came alive with a firestorm of accusations against the banks for causing the current mortgage crises, I had been mentally writing this posting for several days. When the banks began declaring moratoriums on foreclosures, I was no longer satisfied with just commenting on news forums and blogs. I wanted to crucify U.S. banks for the effect they were having on my life and I wanted vindication. Excited and ready to tell my story through this blog, I had been pulling thoughts together all morning. Determined to jump onto my keyboard after picking my son up from his appointment, I was still writing in my head while driving the few miles to his clinic. 

That is until I saw my 24-year-old son standing outside at the Intensive Care Clinic. There he stood, alone outside of an old red brick building, his head down but the look on his face causing the collapse of the soapbox I'd mentally been standing on. As tears began to well in my eyes, I fought against the overwhelming grief that threatened my ability to be his safe haven.  Struggling with unbearable sadness, I looked into the face of my son and gave him a smile -- hoping to erase the look that no parent should ever have to see.  The face of severe mental illness.  

Stopping the car, I rolled down the window and croaked out a hello while screaming inside at the loneliness that darkens his sad blue eyes. Remembering the moment as I type these words, the tears have begun to fall down my cheeks -- again.  My child is broken.  His world is a never-ending nightmare that starts within minutes of opening his eyes every morning. The fear that has taken over his life as the voices took over his inner mind is now showing across his once beautiful face. 

Turning out onto the roadway, gripping the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white, I asked him how the visit went and apologized for being a couple minutes late.  Listening to his one-word answers, I silently prayed to hear something different than the usual drug-induced monotone. I raged inside at a God who could allow this suffering to happen to a future that had once been bright.  Glancing over to see his reaction to the offer of a milkshake, my heart grabbed at the tiny smile that appeared on his face.  Like someone lost in the desert for hours without water, I desperately searched for something else to slake my thirst for my lost little boy. 

My desperation turned into a shake and a hamburger and fries, along with a DVD that we'd seen a hundred times before.  Home and Dane Cook - his two ports in the storm.  Grateful to hear him laughing, I silently wondered what else would ease his mind as my eyes took inventory of a home that becomes a of house of horrors when the voices take over.  Quietly tip-toeing into another room, I reviewed the strategy list and suggestions from his counselors.  Reading through the many pamphlets and handouts, I listened to a growing silence from the living room.  Fighting a surge of anxiety, I stepped into my bedroom to calm a rising panic attack. Several minutes later, attacked abated, I gathered my courage to face whatever was waiting for me. Walking down the hallway, I made a silent promise that together we would face his demons and banish the voices that continued to promise him harm.

There he lay, fast asleep on the couch, the white color had faded from his face.  The medications and exhaustion, from a night of voices commanding him to slit his own throat, allowed him to slip into the only thing that gives him an hour of peace.  Although I worried about a nap interfering with a for-his-own-good schedule that he needs to adhere to, I had neither the heart nor the energy to take that away from him.  I turned to head to my room for some much needed rest when I heard him whisper, "Mom." Turning around, I looked at his sleepy face and for a moment I saw my little boy as I listened to him say, "Thanks for taking some of the alone away today."  Smiling and assuring him that my old bones needed a nap too, I headed back to my room to rest and to wait. The next storm is never far away.

And so my friends, my posting is not the one I was composing in my head for the last few days.  As the firestorm of the mortgage and foreclosure crises continues to grow unabated, leaving so many of us wondering if we'll have our homes in six months, I fight another war that has interrupted the life of my family. Tomorrow is another day to take on the narcissistic greed that has infected our country and continues to wreak havoc as I struggle to save my own home.  Today, for as long as I am able, I fight an unseen enemy for the life of my son.  I will put out the fires of mental illness for as long as I can and bring comfort and peace to a lonely young take some of the alone away.   

We have much to be judged on when he comes, slums and battlefields and insane asylums, but these are the symptoms of our illness and the result of our failures in love.
                                                                                                                                        Madeleine L'Engle