Let me introduce myself: I'm a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother (call me GiGi, please). I'm a City girl who grew up in a stable, loving two parent home. I’m college educated, and married my high school sweetheart. I enjoyed a great career in sales and marketing before becoming a full-time Mom to two great children, girl and boy, respectively. Early in our careers, we moved around quite a bit, on the average, every 18 months. We were climbing the proverbial corporate ladder, but as the children got older, we settled in our hometown and soon church, social, school and family activities were all-consuming. Kids’ ballgames and family get-togethers were one right after the other. It was great, babysitters ON CALL! Charmed Life.
But you know that part in a movie when everything's going sooo good and you just know it can't stay that way, something bad is about to happen?
One morning, I went to wake my 13-year old son for school and he wasn't in his room. He wasn't anywhere in our house; at 6am, my teenage boy was gone. We called his friends, we called his school, we called the police. We panicked, we prayed and four hours later, we got a phone call from a youth pastor at a nearby church. He told us he found our son on his church steps. He’d tried to commit suicide the night before by setting himself on fire.
After this really bad thing happened, what got me was, How did I not KNOW?! How did I not KNOW my son?! How did I not KNOW my son wanted to die?! This beautiful, brilliant, kind, loving man-child of mine, who I live with and talk to and see with my own eyes and touch with my own hands, how could he feel worthless, why did he feel like an invisible stranger in his loving family home?
Then I went through different stages, emotionally dealing with my son's illness; the first was simply "Sadness." Did you know, you can become dehydrated from crying?
Next, I thought I'd be one of those parents who would find a cure for their kid’s illness online. I started researching drugs, diagnosis, treatment facilities, and even entertained the thought of starting a camp for young men, but quickly realized I was ill-equipped to handled my own son’s illness, let alone others. At one point, I was numb, sleep deprived; stretches of time passed, I don't really remember them. My son was really ill in different mental hospitals and I just remember mourning over dreams I had for him that I thought he couldn't pursue.
Finally, I got mad. I remember praying and telling God how unfair this harsh illness was for a young person and God's loving response was, "Extraordinary people can't have ordinary lives." Let me tell you, after God tells you something like that, your whole attitude changes. The truth is, my son’s illness has changed me for the better. I'm more compassionate, less judgmental. I do see the blessing in this, my son still struggles, we're still figuring it out, but that's what life's journey IS all about, helping each other to do things better. How boring would we be without the struggles in our lives? Don't believe me; just reread the first paragraph. Don't get me wrong; I want nothing more than a cure for my son’s illness. I want him to have financial security, be in a stable, loving relationship, be a great father and I want him to know how truly extraordinary he is, because then, he, too will feel Blessed By This "so called mess.”