One of my favorite things about Christmas is the lights! Twinkling, shining, sparkling little rays of light, of hope, of love. From the day the lights first start to twinkle, I immediately become a child at heart. Anxiously waiting for the sun to fade away and give life to the night I wait patiently for the lights to flicker on and wrap me in the safety that I feel in their glow.
It has been 4 years this month, since the lights faced their biggest challenge. My husband and I had taken the kids to see the Christmas lights at Hines park and we were all so exited! The wonderful thing about being a parent who delights in the little things, is having children who see the magic in the little things as well. We packed hot cocoa and cookies and made the long drive to see the lights that were sure to bring a smile to all of these little faces. We had to wait in line for quite awhile, something that is not easy for a car load of neurotypical kids let alone a car full of kids on the spectrum and all the sensory problems that it entails. We finally made it to the front of the line, paid our $5 and my heart swelled with all of the anticipation and excitement of what I thought would be a perfect evening.
The kids were struggling to take in all the lights and cars that were around us. Joshua, in particular, was finding the noises of his brothers, the Christmas music and all of the other sensory input to be more than he could bear. My perfect evening enjoying the lights with my family, was fading fast. Keep in mind that this was 4 years ago, making Joshua 8 yrs old and his brothers 11,6,3 and 1. There was crying, yelling and kicking of seats. There were kids pulling on their own hair, clawing their faces and ears and screaming, begging, for the noise to stop. I pulled my car over to the side of the road and told Joshua to get out. I just needed him to be out of the vehicle, out of the noise and the chaos that was obviously more than he could process and, to be honest with you, his reactions were more than I could process while being trapped in a small vehicle with all these people. Joshua and I got out of the car and stood there in the cold and snowy night and he said the words I will never forget… “Mom, please let me kill myself.”
Five words. Not even big words, but words that broke my heart to hear and, more importantly, shattered my sons world to have to say. How do you respond to something like that? Is there a way to go back in time and make it so I never have to hear those words come out of the perfect little mouth on my adorably freckle faced little boy? Is there a way to change the past so my sweet boy wouldn’t have to feel the pain and torture that must have gone hand in hand with that statement? “Mom, please let me kill myself” True to Joshua’s form, he was even polite in his statement to me!
I told him “No, killing yourself isn’t an option!” He begged, pleaded, shared with me the plans that he had already thought up as to how to end his life. “Do you think I want to live like this?” he yelled at me “You always say heaven is a wonderful place and it has to be better than this!” How do I argue with that? I wanted to tell him that I lied, that heaven is horrible place that makes you do long division all day, but I couldn’t.
I wish I could remember exactly what I said to him as we stood there with little more than the stars, the twinkling Christmas lights and the passing cars to bear witness. All I know is that I didn’t know what to say. I opened my mouth and the voice that came from my body was equal parts scared teenaged little girl who had wanted to end her life so many times, terrified mother and The Holy Spirit.
This began our trip down the rabbit hole known as Mental Health….There have been many conversations that I have had to open my heart and my soul to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes you truly are the body….
I look at my happy kiddo, now 12 years old, smiling as we drive through the lights at Hines Park this year and I can’t help but think about how far we’ve come….. we’ve come so far.