Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cat's Cradle

A little over a week ago I made this entry here. The article also appeared as my monthly column over at Hopeful Parents, a gathering place for those of us parenting under special circumstances and those that love and support us.
From the beginning I realized that I had touched upon a tender and most likely a very painful subject due to two e-mails I received almost immediately after the post went live. What was weird is that there were virtually zero comments left by readers at the two websites. Even after my Facebook page picked up the article (not once but actually three times) there was absolutely nothing left in response...until the following arrived in my private messages. 

Cat McCauley Labbe is a friend of mine from a few years back. In fact other than rekindling our friendship via Facebook we havne't laid eyes on each other since high school. Over the past year or so we have discovered many things about each other including the fact that we have (and still do) walk an almost identical path. After reading her thoughts I knew why there was so much silence.

I just read your beautiful post, Bennie, very heartfelt, and very true, as we have lived it firsthand. The only tidbit of knowledge I can add for you, and it is a that there is indeed a summit on Mt. Neverest. Everyone's is different, a different time and place on the climb, but trust me fully when I tell you that when you lay down your equipment, when the climb has gone as far as it can go, you will look back on the journey of a lifetime; one that very few familes are chosen to ever get to take.

Would you go if you knew what was ahead? Hell no! You'd be insane! You go because you are called and someone upstairs knows you can manage the climb. I hope you and Joan never have to lay down your equipment but even without the early loss of a special child, inevitably, the two of you will get older and unable to do as much as you do for Ben right now. So either way the journey will come to an end one day.

When it does, in spite of the heartbreak, crazy grief, helpless feelings, angry feelings....and they will all be there, you will also feel a since of accomplishment that no other life experience can or ever will give you. You will know that you did all you could do to make this very special life that Jesus Christ chose you and your wife to guide, protect, love, and nurture, has had a joyfull journey filled with unconditional love and acceptance. You will wonder what to do with yourselves and this was the point that we almost lost our 26 year marriage. What do we do now? We were lost.

After much prayer and contemplation and feeling like a failure, I realized that we had not failed at all. We took the climb. We gave it our all. We fell. We got hurt. We got banged up but we kept getting back up and going forward on the next leg of the hike. When you have fulfilled God's destiny for you to the best of your ability, and have accepted God's will for your precious child (whatever that may be) you will look back and know that you did indeed reach the summit - one that very few ever get to see because only a few are called by Him to see it. Those of us who have been called, are the luckiest parents in the world.

We spent ten years as virtual shut-ins too but the life lessons, the strength in adversity, the laughter, and the love that Eli graced us with for 16 years turned out to be the ultimate summit in life. Looking back on it now, I'd climb down and do it all over again. 

My advice? Accept help - don't be ashamed to ask for help...after all, you can't expect to hog the whole blessing! I haven't seen you in years, but I LOVE YOU, and I mean that. I feel every word you write to the marrow of my bones. Ben's smile reminds me so much of Elijah. Eight years ago I would have sobbed seeing his picture. Now I am able to smile with him because I know that with a strong family, which he obviously has in abundance, his story will have a happy ending no matter what God intends that to be.


Eric Fischer said...

"You go because you are called and someone upstairs knows you can manage the climb." That is a lovely sentiment. Life gives you only as much as you can handle and all. Respectfully I say it just isn't so, that is revisionist history, looking back. Did you hear about the two cases in Canada where the father killed his disabled daughter, in once case committing suicide after? Hurricane Katrina certainly gave some people a run for their money. Why do I lambast, what some would call castigate? Because the journey is hard and you had better be mentally focused or you will misstep and plummet. Psychologically, by thinking God would never give you more than you can handle leaves you vulnerable to complacency. Leave God out of this, he has made his decision, now you must make yours.

About the silence, I think that very few and far could possibly encroach on the understanding that your friend Cat has. She is an exception with her experience. Others simply have no clue and I agree that being a shut-in (twelve years and counting) is counter productive but on the other hand the intensity of maintaining a sufferable existence for your son overwhelmingly precludes normal social life.

Kyla said...

That is a beautiful letter. I know our life is not quite what I imagined it to be, but through that I became this other person, someone that I didn't know I had the strength or drive to be. KayTar did that for me.