“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Antoine de Saint Exupéry)
I’m writing this post both to let you know I’ll be absent from the blogosphere for a while and to ask you for your most sincere and earnest good thoughts and prayers.
When I talk about our troubles in an oblique way, without giving many details, I’m not trying to be mysterious or melodramatic. In fact, I wish I could tell you everything, to ease the burden I carry, but so much of it involves other people whose privacy I don’t wish to compromise. Plus, who wants to hear all our trials? It’s certainly too much to expect folks to listen to some endless recitation of our latest tribulations. As I wrote in an earlier post, I start to feel almost embarrassed to relate another hardship. I think, sub-consciously (or not), many people start to wonder if we’re somehow bringing this on ourselves. You might wonder how could so many bad things happen to one family or what we might have done to displease God. Lord knows, I have sure wondered that.
And that is why I withdraw when things get overwhelming. No matter how much people tell you that you should reach out to others (and I believe you should, which is why I’m writing this), the truth is, those others have their own problems, and I can’t realistically expect them to shoulder my burdens when it seems mine are endless.
But I can and will ask you for your kindest thoughts and for your most sincere prayers. Especially for my son Benjamin. Long-time readers already know that Benjamin is autistic and that navigating the world is far more of a struggle for him than anyone knows. And long-time readers also know that Benjamin’s had a tough time of it in the last two years. An appendectomy, the loss of several loved ones, and a broken back (with lingering pain) have just added to his burden, and he has struggled for a while with depression.
And it all finally became more than he could bear. He’s in the hospital now. I’m telling you that because there is no shame in it. The greater shame is in some of the things that contributed to his being where he is now. The relentless bullying he endured when he was little when the adults that should have intervened, didn’t, for one. I can’t tell you how many times teachers said (and they all knew he was autistic), “Oh, bullying’s just a natural part of growing up. He needs to learn to stand up for himself.”
I’ve written before—extensively—about all the ways the world rejects those who are different (just click on “Autism” in my sidebar if you want to read those posts). But I’ll say again—please teach your children well. Teach them first and foremost to be kind. I believe there is nothing more important. And children learn kindness from their parents. So…be kind. Consistently. If you are, you’ll never reject others because they are different. If you are kind, you will love folks for who they are, whether they fit your narrow definition of “normal” or not. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll figure out that perhaps they have something to teach you—something that may expand not only your mind, but your heart.
But right now, Benjamin’s heart is broken. So is ours. We have never felt such deep and profound grief. So I ask you, from the bottom of my heart, for all the good thoughts and prayers you can muster. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening.