Happy Birthday Sam

Would I have aborted you if I could see your future? You were born picture perfect with blue eyes and blond hair. You spoke in sentences by age one so I knew you were special. But it was a funny incident when you were four years old that still sticks in my mind. I took you to preschool and another little boy called you “a stupid kid.” That’s right, “A stupid kid.” And my reaction? Why, I beamed with joy. You see, all I wanted was a normal, stupid kid—just a regular little boy who would grow up, go to college, have a career, a family. You didn’t have to be a genius even though you were with your 159 IQ.

Just a regular kid, that’s all I wanted since my first child died soon after birth due to a severe brain abnormality. So when that other boy said those words I thought, I did it. I actually had a normal child. But I was so very wrong.

Just before your twentieth birthday you underwent a radical change: you looked different, you stopped making sense, you walked camelback on leaden legs. Oh, there were ups and downs over the years, but you eventually became a stranger, and I still miss the old Sam so much.

Recently at a family reunion, we saw your cousins. They have careers and families. Even your younger brother has now finished law school, but you, without even speaking, scream mental illness with your ill-fitting clothes and disheveled hair. It took me a week to recover from that reunion, to not want to throw myself from a roof.

I try to find a reason for hope, but, in truth, I can’t find one, and if I could have prevented my own birth I would have, gladly, rather than live without knowing happiness.

When you were little and the fireworks went off to celebrate Independence Day, I’d tell you they were celebrating your birthday, even though you were born on the third. You’d laugh, and your two dimples would deepen. I can’t see your dimples anymore, Sam; they’re hidden behind your scruffy beard.

So would I have aborted you? I think I’ll pull a Scarlett O’Hara and put it off until later because birthdays are supposed to be the time to celebrate specialness. And you are special, Sam. Maybe not special in the way I had hoped, but special nonetheless. So, happy birthday, Sammy boy, and, yes, I do love you. I love you and your brother equally. Really! I even like you. It’s just that the challenge is more than I’m equipped to handle. But I’m still your mother and will keep doing what mothers do: love their children as best they can.


About waywardweed

I am a consumer and parent of two sons, one with a mental illness and the other a third-year law student.
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7 Responses to Happy Birthday Sam

  1. 1sparrow says:

    As I was cleaning out my father’s closet 12 years ago, I found a two-inch leather photo holder with a picture of my brother at age 7 or 8, smiling, with a cartoon pic on his t-shirt. My tormented brother, whom I had never known as “normal.” It was hard to comprehend how he was once so innocent looking, he who turned our family’s life upside down. He brought us all to our knees, literally. (As Catholics, we lit enough prayer candles to start a bonfire.) In some ways he was like your precious Sam.

    Though I want so much to encourage you I cannot think of any words that would lighten your load, be balm to your heart, or would offset the grief you have endured. To diminish your pain would be an insult. Chipper words, well, forget it.

    I think of King David (Absalom, Absalom!) who said if he had wings he’d fly away to some mountain until his calamities passed–“I would hasten my escape,” he said. He groaned over the fact that his friends now reproached him. Wingless and unable to change his circumstances, he instead cried out to God morning, noon, and night, and insisted on trusting God, whose ways are not always clear or “logical.” I do pray you find refuge in him. (which might be quite a challenge, everything considered)

    With the photo of my little brother was a picture of a cross, embroidered around the edge with red ribbon. The name of a prayer oratory was on the front — my aunt had been praying for him; I assume she sensed something awry at an early age (or she sure got on her knees later).
    What happened to him? I don’t know.
    You don’t know. We grope in the dark and pray for light. Sam, Happy Birthday. I pray for an inroad that brings light.

  2. waywardweed says:

    Thank you for your thoughts. You don’t know what happened to him as in where he is or you don’t know what happened to his mind. In any case, I appreciate your comments and I pray for your family too.

  3. sweetempranillo says:

    Well spoken, being a parent of a mentally ill adult is not the delightful reward of years of sacrifice. To know they struggle within their own world while we have to stand by & watch is heart breaking. As the world watches & judges what they don’t comprehend, we are the ones that must face both worlds unflinchingly.

  4. waywardweed says:

    Yes this was not what I bargained for. It wasn’t even under my radar. Just goes to show … you never know. Thanks for commenting.

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