Monday, June 6, 2011

Finding light in the depths

On Saturday Eldest (home from college) and Big Guy (home on a weekend visit) talked Snuggler and Little Guy into playing a long and complicated game which went on for a couple of hours (Dancer was off at the ballet). There was much laughter, with an occasional spark of irritation.

Life is good when laughter abounds. It is especially good to see Big Guy cheerful and happy. There are times when life seems normal, and he seems normal. I wish I could say I have learned how to treasure those happy times instead of immediately feeling the ache of having the norm benot-normal, but I'm not 100% there yet. There is a deep howl of the should-ness of life that emerges when I hear Big Guy laugh; I am ever-mindful of what ought to be, but is not.

When I explore the hole my son's mental illness has eroded in my heart, it is like entering a dark, narrow cave and discovering it suddenly opens into an endless cavern. There is more emptiness there than it seems possible to hold. And yet I note -- while pushing aside my panic -- that the walls of a cavern are rock; there is support; there is solidity. It depends on whether you you look at what's holding it together, or what's been taken away.

It also depends on whether you have brought light with you. For me, that light comes from faith. It keeps me from groping about, panicked, in the echoing darkness, and allows me to glimpse the beauty that lies in the hollow depths.

Suffering can be a claustrophobic experience. It is dark, it is exhausting, it is clammy and cold. I desperately wish I could pull my son up from out of the depths, but I cannot. And so when I hear Big Guy laugh, I try very, very hard to focus on how his moment of joy is amplified as it echoes off the walls of my heart.  


  1. God bless Big Guy...God bless your other beautiful children...and God bless you and hubby!! Thank you for sharing from your heart!!

  2. Oh how this blog resonated with us! Yes, suffering is like that....It
    catches us like a butterfly trapped in a net....We have just returned from planting flowers on the grave of our 38 yr. old son. Life should not be like this, should it?
    I keep adding more flowers, as if they can finally choke out the
    weeds of desperation in my heart.

    Finally, I have to I really trust that God is keeping our son?
    Can I actually truly laugh again and really mean it? I won't
    promise, but I WILL TRY!

    Shirley Alderman

  3. Shirley Alderman's comment and your post are both so moving. My best wishes and prayers for both of your mother hearts to be lightened somehow by God's grace.

  4. tears . . .

  5. I've been reading your older posts and when I got to this one I just had to write. I have two daughters. The oldest is a special needs adult. The youngest is a special needs teacher in our public school system. Your words describe exactly how I've felt for the past thirty-five years. I never could explain it to anyone until now. Thank you for giving me the words that had so often failed to come. Your journey as a mother will be lifted before our Father.
    Til next time...God bless you.
    Ginger (