I need to tell a story about a man in my life. The term "man" is hard for me to say because you see; he is my son, my first born. He is the baby born in the summer time of the year 1977. A year that held for me much pain and much joy. I was married at nineteen to another nineteen year old who really had no business being a husband much less a father and life was tough but every time I looked at that baby's little face, I just knew we could get through anything. I was right too; we did get through everything but not without many wounds and lots of heartache.
This child of mine will be 30 years old this coming summer. He is creative and artistic, humorous and fun to be around. He is sensitive and thoughtful and he is Bipolar. It is who he is and though people who don't understand this disorder think he needs to just grow up or get over it, they haven't a clue the things he has to overcome that they will never have to deal with. They try to "fix" him, but he is not broken, he does not need fixing. Don't get me wrong, we don't use the disorder as an excuse for bad behavior but we know he sees things differently and when he does something that makes totally no sense to others, there is usually a logical explanation, at least in his mind.
I am not a stranger to mental illness. My childhood was spent with a man who I knew loved me but was unable to show me. He functioned most of the time in his own world and was unable to cope with a child. He was so like my son, this man, my father. But he lived during a time when not as much was understood as it is today and he was never able to get the help he so deserved. His life was lonely and dark most of the time and he died a young man. But in the brief moments when there was light, I was allowed to see who he really was. In those short moments, I knew he loved and cared for me and in my memory, in my mind's eye, it is his smiling face I remember the most, not the pain in his eyes that I saw more often.
I want for my son to have more times filled with laughter than with pain. I want for him to know what a phenomenal person he is. I want for HIM to know this. I hope this journey we are on, he and I, will result in at least this. But more than anything I want him to see the magic that really does exist in life. The things you can’t understand or imagine. I want him to believe that things happen for a reason and you just have to be open to them and ready to accept the lesson they are trying to open up to you. Not everyone in life catches them, these little lessons in life, I’ve missed quite a few in myself, but as I grow older I see them more and more. I believe one of those magic times is happening to him right now. And I pray with all my heart that he grabs hold of it and understands that life is not always easy for any of us, but we go on and we make the most of it. I'd trade my life for him to be happy and at peace.