Against the Future

A few days ago I hit that all too familiar place in my life. The one where the thoughts start spiraling out of control and instead of entertaining ideas like what we will do with our weekend -I start making plans for other things. I start fantasizing about driving to the liquor store and picking up two of the finest bottles. I start dreaming about drinking both of those bottles. I can feel the way it runs down my throat. I can taste it. It is so close. My thoughts continue to spiral and in the matter of minutes I go from a somewhat reasonable person to feeling nothing but anger, sadness, frustration, and yes -the so familiar friend -guilt.

The kind that wraps itself around you like a warm blanket and then tightens its grip -refusing to let go. Refusing to let you go.

I am familiar with all of these thoughts. So really, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise. But it did. Because they came from seemingly left field, they caught me so off guard and suddenly that I had no defense. I had nothing to bring myself back up again. It was simply spiraling into that deep dark black hole -alone. And to be completely honest, it scared me.

Not in an “I am scared of spiders, thunder or the dark” sort of way, but in a gut wrenching, heart ringing, head spinning kind of fear. My thoughts take control of themselves and there is no stopping. The guilt the squeezes until the last drop of life is out, the fear that takes control, the thoughts that never release…

I sit here today feeling as though I have just ran with the bulls, only instead of running with them -I lay beneath them as their hooves trample me -again and again, over and over, relentless. My body is tired, my mind is deflated, my heart is vulnerable and weak. I count the days down until the weekend will arrive -and take me away. Perhaps through drink, perhaps through sleep.

My tired mind screams to just give up the fight already. There is no reason to keep fighting. There is no reason to sacrifice the very things that at least give temporary relief. There is nothing keeping me on this side anymore. There is no point. No reason. No logic. The fight itself is simply not worth it. These thoughts mingle with the rest, conspiring against me whispering sweet nothings in my ear -reminding me again and again of the failures that have come as a result of me.

The thoughts that the world would be a much better place if I, for one, were not in it -are not even enough to rattle my cage anymore. To give that much credit to myself would be an insult to the rest of the world.

In a moment of frustration I drag myself outside into the heat of the day. The sun beating down hard giving our small town a very unusual introduction to summer, treating us to 70 degree temperatures where normally 50 would be suffice. I run. One foot in front of the other until I can go no further, and then I keep on running. Willing myself to run away from these thoughts. As if I run far enough, fast enough, hard enough -maybe I will be able to sneak up behind them, take them by surprise and put an end to them, once and for all.

Where did they come from? Why now? Haven’t I been doing so good? Too good? Maybe if I could trace their origin I could take them down. Once and for all.

But taking them from behind is not, in fact what I need to do. Facing them head on is the hardest. Running from them is easy.

Swirling

The words swirl in my head looking for a place to land. Somewhere to set up camp, somewhere to plant themselves. Somewhere they can grow. Grow into thoughts and ideas, solutions, and problems. Somewhere they can start to make sense. I brush them aside, swat them away like they are angry flies and not words that one day will hopefully form sentences that will make sense to me.

When Josh was fist diagnosed with austim I bought every book I could get my hands on. I searched the internet into the late hours. I looked for ideas, solutions and yes, even cures. I read every bit of information I could daring it to make sense…then one day, I tossed all the books into a drawer and never looked back. My reasoning was simple: No one had the answers I was looking for. There are no two cases that are the same, and since nothing was fitting -why was I going to waste my time looking for answers in a book when clearly the answers were right in front of me.

Its been a battle. A struggle. A constant fight. Trying to understand, figure out, sort, and determine everything that goes into raising a non-verbal child with autism. People often ask how I know what he wants, how I know what he needs, what he likes, what he doesn’t like, and the question has always stumped me. How would I not know? Perhaps it is the intuition that is both a curse and a reward all in one, perhaps it is the connection of being so close and living with someone for so long, or perhaps it is just that he makes his wants known. He makes his likes and dislikes clear. Whatever it is -he is a pretty easy child to understand.

I have been holding back on saying a bunch of stuff that so badly wants to come out yet stay in at the same time. I have been keeping my thoughts to myself for multiple reasons -but the main being that I don’t want something I say to hurt someone I love. One day if they are to stumble on these words -I don’t want them thinking that I thought less of them. It’s a tricky balance, because so much of their stories are not mine anymore…yet their stories intertwine with mine, making them, somehow, partially mine.

Monday, after a long weekend of empty thoughts I met with the team working together to try and make sense of a somewhat complicated 16 year old. It has been nearly seven months now -and various medications, treatments, therapy and counseling has failed. Mere days from sending him to live with his grandparents -he attempted something that raised red flags and thwarted all plans -yet again. It seemed somewhat hopeless, and quite frankly empty. Like there would never be an end to all this. Like there simply was no outcome that was going to be remotely close to what I was hoping for…

Then Monday happened.

A few words were tossed around, and a diagnosis. For the first time in seven months. While I would have liked to hear the words “He’s fine. He’s coming home. He’s decided against following through with threats that have been made the past seven months.” While I would have loved nothing more than a solid promise that the future is going to be ok -they handed me a wobbly idea of what they think is going on. A diagnosis that if treated properly, and handled correctly -I’m told can result in a somewhat normal life.

While its great to finally have a word to place on the problem and hopefully with that magic word there will be some magical way of bringing the kid I know back out again -the diagnosis day is always a bit haunting to me. Sitting across the table from well respected people hearing that once again, you aren’t going to be winning any awards for the normal family. That your life will always be haunted by diagnosis’s, medications, therapy, and hopefully -if you and the members of your house beat all odds -you might have a shot a broken future.

It wasn’t what I hoped for. It never is. The things I hope for are so much a thing of the past that I don’t even remember them clearly. I long for the word normal. Regardless of how sketchy the definition for it may be -I want some of it. I want to fight with the kids about normal things. Things like staying out too late, getting speeding tickets, and bringing home the wrong girls. I realize it sounds shallow. I realize it sounds stupid. I realize that I should be grateful that this diagnosis is not one that is terminal. At least in a short sense.

…and I will take it. I will accept it. I don’t hold anything against it. I might not understand what the words are, swirling around in my head looking for a landing spot…maybe one day I will make sense of them. But until then, I will take the diagnosis that has been applied to a seemingly innocent 16 year old child, and run with it -if it means one day, having him (the real him) back.

Empty Glass

I’ll be the first to admit, as much as I would like to consider myself a “the glass is ½ full” kind of guy, I am very much a “the glass is ½ empty.” While I like to make jokes and mess around about that, and prefer to play on the spin offs of “Who’s been drinking out my cup?” I am not a very optimistic kind of person. My first reaction is always negative, I have a hard time seeing through the dark and cloudy days, and as much as I preach that it will get better -I have a hard time believing that.

I preach it in hopes of one day, believing it. As if I say it enough, then maybe, by some small chance it will actually be ok. Maybe one day it really will be better, and if not then maybe one day I will believe that one day it will get better. I have tried to surround myself with people who are optimistic -in hopes of stealing some of their optimism. I have tried all the fool proof plans of telling yourself happy thoughts, and only thinking about flowers and sunshine and all that…

But there comes a day, usually two days into my attempt at an attitude change that reality steps up to the plate and reminds me of the harsh reality that we are living in. The one where every day is NOT sprinkled with sunshine. The one that says no matter how positive and optimistic you try to be -there will be those days that pummel you to the ground.

Last night after I turned the lights and the TV out and found my way to bed, I lay in the silence -listening to the sounds of dogs snoring and frogs croaking. For a brief moment, it was like life handed me a choice -to accept what was going on, face it head on and deal with it -or sweep it under the rug, ignore it and deal with it another day. It shouldn’t be of much surprise that I chose the latter.

See, last night I got called in for a late night meeting. Late night, unplanned and unscheduled meetings I have come to learn -are not good.

There just aren’t words to fully express what is going on. My mind shuts it out, I choose not to think about it, and pretend it doesn’t exist…and in some unexplainable way -my entire body goes numb. There are simply no words to explain it. The words that I need to understand and process only confuse me. The words they say don’t register the way they should and I begin to wonder if something is wrong with me. Last night was the first time my mind went anywhere close to acknowledging any of it. Block it out, continue on. Somehow it works, but somehow…it doesn’t.

I have yet to verbalize the words. To make them real. To put them out there. To admit. To accept. To believe. That with the good comes the bad, and the very bad, and even worse. It’s confusing in one sense, but frustrating in another. But trying to overcome the portion of my brain that simply wants to ignore is challenging.

After spending nearly eight months in a group home, specializing in dealing with situations like such -he teamed up with another kid and made a pact. Not a let’s be friends forever, sort of pact. But a pact that on Mothers day -the two of them would put an end to it all -once and for all. Yet instead of following through -the other kid involved got scared, took everything he had learned over the past amount of time that he has been there -and told someone about the pact that was to take place…putting an end to it.

Instead of feeling overjoyed that there is another chance, another opportunity for hope -I am frustrated. Upset. Confused. And yes…mad. Why couldn’t he have been the one that told. Why couldn’t he have been the one to take things to heart and see an out. Why does he have to be the one going through this. They aren’t questions, they are statements.

So much of me wants to just give up. Give up on everything that I have believed in and on. Give up on hope, and the future. Give up on tomorrow. Give up on him.

Part of me feels that I already have. That I am simply waiting. Waiting for the phone call that says “Its over.” Part of me wants to keep telling him to stay strong, that it will get better -but part of me just wants to join him, give the finger to the world and wait for death to give some relief.

I don’t even know what to think anymore. I don’t even know if holding onto the rest of what’s in that glass is worth it. I don’t even know if it matters if there is anything in the glass. Because sometimes that damn glass seems to be more trouble than its really worth…

Let’s Learn Something

Let’s learn, to not take things at face value. To not judge at first sight. To take a minute to understand before passing judgment.

Let’s learn that people have feelings. That compassion costs nothing. That a smile can change the course of someone’s day.

Let’s learn…to be more appreciating. Caring. Understanding.

Let’s learn that there are other people that make this world go round, and that we might not be the center of the universe and that’s ok!

Let’s learn to appreciate not only our position in this world, but others as well.

Let’s learn to work together for a common goal, and stop working so hard against each other.

Let’s learn to put aside the hatred, the poison filled arrows, lend a helping hand, a kind word, a simple smile…or if nothing else…let’s learn to be quiet.

Happy Birthday, Madison

I wanted it to be perfect. As if writing it would somehow right all the wrongs. I wanted it to be meaningful. Saying all the things I wish I had said, but didn’t. As if somehow that would erase all the things I said instead -the things I wish I wouldn’t have said. I wanted it to be deep. Inspiring. Encouraging. All the things that I never have been. I wanted it to be real. And so I waited. I held off as long as possible. I delayed the thoughts, the words, the everything -as if somehow…that would change it all. Slow the world down and give me some time to process just what is happening.

But as anyone would tell you -life keeps plucking along. Day in and day out, and stalling did nothing to help me.

Instead it made things worse. Because instead of going with my first instincts, my first words, my first reactions – I mulled over them so long, that suddenly they made no sense. The words lost all meaning -as they do, and I was left with nothing. So I delayed it even more. Until there was no more delaying to be had.

Thing is, this is going to be the last thing that I write to you. Publicly, at least. You are 18. Your stories are no longer tied to anyone but yourself. You are embarking on your own adventures, you own life, your own path. I would be kidding myself by saying that you are just now starting this journey -because to be completely honest -you have been on this path forever. You have always had your own way, your own style, your own ideas. It’s what makes you, you. But I feel now is the time to file away all the old memories, sit back and watch.

Watch you spread your wings and take flight into this completely unknown journey that only you know about. This journey that you have been waiting for. This moment that you have LIVED for. You. Are officially an adult.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a burst of pride somewhere deep down inside. That kind of feeling that starts low, and bubbles to the top to the point where you can’t help it -you have to smile. You have to laugh. You have to embrace it all. The feeling of pride is not something I feel much. But today…I felt it. The pride that doesn’t rightfully belong to me, but is nestled in deep.

So I will say what I don’t say much. What I should have said more. What I hope you already know: I am proud of you girl. I have always been proud you. Regardless of the choices you have made, the steps you have taken, the paths you have chosen -pride is the one word that comes to mind when I think of you. How you have handled yourself. How you have handled others. How you have handled life.

I know that if I feel this much pride? That your parents -have 10x the amount.

You have worked hard. Loved harder, and given everything you have. You have picked yourself up, dusted the dirt off and carried on. Countless times. You have shown the world what it means to embrace a sour hand. But you have never once been bitter about it. You have always managed to turn the negatives into something positive. Never once giving up on your dreams, never once listening to the voices that said you can’t. You have learned to surround yourself with those who will encourage you -and in turn, you encourage them.

I hope that one day, when you look back -you won’t just see the hard times, harsh words, and unspoken things. I hope you know that deep down -I am proud of who you were, who you are and who you are becoming…and despite rarely, if ever saying it -I hope you really do know how much I love you.

Happy birthday kid -you made it.

– Your Uncle

Because It Matters

There comes a point in life, I suppose, where you must face reality. No matter how hard that reality may be. There comes a point when you have to hang up all your ideas, hopes, dreams, ideas, and knowledge and admit that perhaps, all along, you have been wrong. You have to abandon your knowledge on what you feel is best, abort the mission that says “As long as you______then things will be ok” and empty yourself of the notion that what you have assumed is right -perhaps, might just be wrong.

Its been a hard week.

Sure, in the whole scheme of things, in the grand plan, in the scope of the year -it hasn’t been that hard. There are worse things. There are harder things. There are things that would really be worse than this. And while I try to tell myself these things, while I try to keep myself from completely splattering all over everyone and everything -it doesn’t always help.

Because I’m still human. Deep down beyond the robot exterior that says “I got this. This will be ok. We will be fine….” my human heart shatters into a million and one pieces and I wonder if I will be able to pick up from this. I mean, I know I will. Because its not the worst thing that could happen, but it still sucks. And I don’t deal with ‘sucks’ all that well.

I try not to put myself in situations that I know won’t end well. I try to avoid places I know will lead to awkward encounters. I try not to stay around one person too long for fear that my nutty underside will come out to play. I try and live life with little exposure. I guard as much as possible. And in all other circumstances -I avoid. It works.

But then there are those moments, those days, those years…those kids. That make you come out a little. Because you can’t raise kids hiding out under the comfort of that rock. You can’t teach them by example to give life all you’ve got when you yourself are afraid of failure. You can’t teach confidence by hiding under a blanket. You can’t teach adventure by living between the four walls of safety. And you can’t teach them how to accept failure and move on -if you don’t learn to accept it yourself.

These lessons tho, they bite.

Perhaps it’s because I had an ideal situation worked out in my mind. Maybe its because of the tunnel vision I so often have. Or maybe it’s just because for once in my life -I thought I was doing the right thing, let down my guard and attempted to live -but that’s what happens when you truly start to live.

I have always said that I would do what is best for the kids. While I have failed at most things in life, I have tried to keep their best interest as the main goal. This isn’t to say that I have succeeded. In fact it might serve better as an open confession to admit that I have not, in fact, succeeded in this area. Regardless of my attempts.

Somehow, all along, I have blindly assumed that if I could just keep the kids together -they would have a fighting chance at this world.

And then things sort of fell apart.

When Dylan first started showing signs of having problems in the areas that he is, I had this vision of a day in the future where he would eventually come home -cured. Cured from what? From life, of course. That somehow sending him off to the “specialists” would equip him with the ability to handle life and once again -everyone would be together and things would be alright. Because I am nothing if not goal driven.

But with each weekly visit it became more and more apparent that he needed more than someone to talk to. He needed more than medication. More than a slap upside the head. He needed more. But what? Looking back, I guess I can see now that the hints at “Not being able to find him help” were more for me to make the connecting thoughts. The connecting thoughts that weren’t connected until yesterday afternoon when I got a phone call.

A phone call from well meaning, good people. People who have their heads on straight. People who at one point I thought had no idea what they were doing -yet were apparently the only ones that knew what they were doing. Because when they said “We only want to be the grandparents” what they really meant was “We want to take a few years to gather our thoughts and enable ourselves to be there for our grandchildren when you screw this all up.”

Hearing the truth, is hard. Admitting that what you have worked for, year after countless year is wrong -is hard. Accepting that this is the best -regardless of what YOU want? Is even harder. The only thing that makes it doable is by knowing that this? This is the best for him. This is what he needs. He will “Benefit from a better family / lifestyle.”

It’s really kind of hard to say, with words -just how it all hits. How it crumbles. Where it lands. It hits hard, it crumbles perfectly and lands somewhere in the middle of that endless, gaping hole. It comes full circle. Makes perfect sense. And will be ok.

Because they are right. And they have always been right. They have just been kind enough to give me a few years to try and figure it out on my own: That I really can’t do this. That it really is hurting them. That this. Needs to happen. For his sake.

And while it’s hard to hear. Difficult to grasp. And painful to come to terms with -I know its true.

Because the truth? It hurts.

It hurts deep.

But it will be ok. Because for once, I feel like I am doing the right thing.

I am letting go.  Because it matters.

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Because…Sometimes…Forever

A few weeks ago while discussing some of the harder details in life with someone I know, the discussion on me raising the kids came up. As it always does -it brought up points that everyone likes to bring up. Such as how I shouldn’t be doing this on my own, which always translates loosely to that I shouldn’t be doing this. Period. The debate arose, the statements made, and the conversation changed. Because the truth is -I never wanted to be doing this. Period. I never wanted to do this alone. Period. But I am. I wasn’t given a choice. I never said I wanted to -but I was never given the option to not.

While some I suppose could argue, that I didn’t have to go getting the kids -I can argue right back that there were no other options at the time. Unless you consider state care an option. My decision to attempt one last time to get the kids back could be a fair arguing platform for those well meaning folks who like to tell me I shouldn’t be doing this -but I could also argue back that they would be the first in line to tell me how I let the kids down if I hadn’t tried.

There is no winning in this situation. You can’t please them all. I learned that years ago, and anymore I try and let it roll off without taking too much to heart. But sometimes it gets under my skin. It buries itself deep like a nasty sliver, irritating everything around it until eventually it works free. Usually in the heat of the moment, or a fit of frustration. Because I never said I was perfect at this.

I understand why people think that I shouldn’t be doing this alone. I agree that kids get equal parts from both parents, and there is something that I cannot provide. I don’t deny this. I am not and never will be able to replace their parents, and will never be able to be their mother. I won’t ever be able to give them that maternal care -it just won’t happen. I can’t change this.

Last night after fighting a cold and fever all weekend, with little sleep -Josh flipped back and forth. Kicking me in the back, slapping me in the head. All unintentional moves from a guy who is fighting off the germs that seem to plaque us often these days. He didn’t know what he wanted, I didn’t know what to give him -and so there we lay, surrounded by darkness. Me silently hoping that he would just give up the fight and go to sleep. Him working himself up more and more as time went on.

It was a night that ended with tears. Mostly from him. Frustrated from feeling so crummy, and not knowing what he needed to make himself feel better he burst into tears. After attempting numerous things to calm him down, and meet his needs I tossed my hands in the air and walked off.

Because we were crossing the line where if I weren’t alone -we wouldn’t be here.

The line that said the things I couldn’t give him, the things I didn’t know what he needed, the things I had no idea about -were the very things that could have been taken care of with someone who knew this area better than I did.

I gave him medicine, multiple pillows, rubbed his back and tried to calm him down. But I couldn’t touch him just right, or talk soothingly to him. I couldn’t cuddle him up and tell him that everything would be ok. Me touching him was not what he needed, and it was only making things worse.

I sat on the couch listening to him slowly calm himself down, while simultaneously calming myself down. Which is where I admit that yes, I walked away from a sick child. I left him in the room alone. I had nothing else to give him. And the words that sunk deep down to parts where they shouldn’t have -came back up. “You shouldn’t do this.”

And for a brief few moments, I listened. I walked away. I thought of all the areas of my life where I have failed, screwed up and downright ruined everything. I let my failures and mistakes wash over me. And when there was nothing left to guilt myself with, I got up and walked back into the room. I lay down beside him and rest my hand on his sweaty head. And told him all the things I probably shouldn’t have, and he most likely didn’t understand.

The things that have been building inside since that night a few weeks ago: That I was sorry. That I knew it wasn’t enough, and never would be. That I hoped one day, he would be able to understand. I told him things that weren’t meant for him. Things that were meant for the other ones. I told him I was trying my best. I would always try my best. And that sometimes I would need him to help -even if helping just meant simply understanding.

And then he kicked he. Not on purpose, or out of spite…but because when you are fighting a fever, and uncomfortable and just don’t feel good sometimes your limbs go places beyond your control.

And because I’m me, and he is him -I laughed. And smiled. Because sometimes…I just need to be reminded. I am doing this. Not because I am the best at it, or because I know everything or can fill all those empty holes…but because I need to. And want to. And wouldn’t want it any other way. Even if it means hopelessly trying to do things beyond my calling.

Forever

Someone once told me that things happen for a reason. I never have been a big believer in this, since most of the things that have happened -don’t seem to have reasons. But somewhere the logic has hung out in the back of my mind and I have attempted to build on it. I have tried to believe that things may happen for a reason -that perhaps is unknown to us. That maybe things happen to us to benefit someone else. And while that’s a really, REALLY sucky logic in a lot of cases, it’s the only thing I could ever think of to make that logic work for me.

When I made the final decision to get the kids back, there were complications that surrounded just about every aspect of it. Especially when it came to Josh. Red tape so thick that no one assumed I would ever see him again. Let alone have custody of him. And while I knew there was a possibility that all the fighting I was planning to do would come up empty handed -I made the decision to fight to the end. Just in case there was that small .01% chance. Just in case.

The years surrounding him first coming home were hard. They were more than hard. They were downright crappy. Difficult. Stressful. Frustrating. Introducing three kids into a new environment is hard in normal circumstances. Trying to fill the shoes of everyone and no one all at once wouldn’t be easy in average situations. But throw in some additional complications and you have the perfect storm. I questioned my decision, countless times. I wondered if it was right. If I was doing the right thing. People told me, advised me, even begged me -to let him go to a home that would be able to help him.

“Focus on the other two. They have potential. They NEED you. Josh doesn’t understand.” The words that still try and tear at my mind on days that are difficult.

Today I walked into the school where Josh has attended the past few years. His last year at this school. I know his teachers by name, I know the workers, I even know the janitor. I have spent more time in his school than any of the others -because of all the ups and downs and struggles we have faced there. In between those walls. I have sat across the desk of countless principles listening to the woes of the day. I have sat through meeting after meeting. We have had plans and schedules that have failed. And many times I wondered if putting him through the stress of school was even worth it. “He doesn’t understand.” the words grated.

But today I sat across from his teacher, and for the first time in my life heard positive reviews about the little boy who I used to have to drag through the halls kicking and screaming. No he’s not perfect, yes he struggles -he will always struggle. We all do. He will probably need an assistant to help him make it through the rest of his classes. He might even need additional classes to make up for things that haven’t sunk in. But he is, as they said “A bright happy child” who they are going to miss.

Those words are words I never thought I would ever hear. And they sunk in deep. Down to the areas of my heart that really needed to hear them.

I made a promise years ago that I wouldn’t give up. Not on him. And not on any of them.

I might fail. I know I will. But I won’t give up. I will never give up. It won’t be easy. It never is. But I will never break my promise to these kids. I am not going to give up on them, I will fight for them when they cannot fight on their own, and I will choose to believe that the experiences I have been through have only given me the experience I need to help them when they cannot see the light. I will choose to believe that everything has happened for a reason, and that reason might just be to help someone that I care a whole heck of a lot about.

I’m not giving up on him. No matter how hard and how difficult it might be.

I’m in this, forever.

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Once Again

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Sometimes, I feel as though life is just one big joke. Like the moments that I feel are successful, are simply pranks that can be used against me at a later point. Because nothing ever seems to come easily, and when it does come -it never lasts.

I’ve thought numerous times on how to say this, yet each time -I get hung up on the words, the details, the logistics of it all. I hate forcing words. But lately that seems to be all that I have been doing. Forcing the words to fit. I keep thinking that by doing so, I will eventually find my groove and be able to write without thinking. I keep waiting -yet nothing is happening.

Nearly eight years ago I made up my mind that I would not stop trying until I had accomplished my goal. I didn’t think I would succeed. Didn’t think it would actually work out, yet somehow -it did. And nearly seven years ago -I was waking up with three kids under the same roof. It was something that people tried to tell me not to do -for more than one reason. Why would I want to do this to them? Why would I think that I could raise three kids on my own? Didn’t I know there were areas of life that I didn’t understand?

I ignored everything and pushed forward -with my ONLY reasoning being that if I was going to get shoved to the curb, at least I knew I tried and did everything I could.

Adding in Josh’s complications only deepened the theory that I should not be raising these kids. After all -what did I know? Didn’t I know that taking him on would ruin the other kids? The advice that I should just “Let him go, and focus on the others” was laid on heavy. Yet I ignored it, and pushed towards the end goal that one day: They would all be together.

I didn’t think I could go wrong if I kept their best interest at the center.

Yet somehow, along the way, I have managed to mess even that up.

And nearly seven years later, with the one thing that I have worked so hard for coming unraveled before my eyes…I have no where to turn. I’m faced with the decision yet again to either fight to the end, or give up. And right now, giving up seems like the best bet. For all involved.

After all -what do I know about raising kids?

I didn’t realize that I could be so wrong and so right at the same time. I didn’t realize that giving them each other would only tear them apart. I didn’t realize that keeping their best interest at heart would bring so much heartache and pain. I didn’t realize that trying to give them the best would eventually, turn into the worst.

I’m trying to wade through some complicated, deep and frustrating decisions. I’m trying to balance the line of what’s good, what’s best and what’s needed. I’m trying to keep best interests at heart, while calculating in those confusing areas of life that no one warns you about. People never answer the questions that are pressing on my mind, but since there is no “one size fits all” kind of answer -I’m left scraping the bottom looking for answers myself.

The one area of my life that I counted as a success, the one thing I worked so hard and so long for -is coming apart. And while something deep down inside of me wants to fight for it, the logical part of me says to let it go while I can. And maybe someday, if its meant to be -it will come back.

If not -at least I can say I tried.

With everything in me.

I fought for them, to keep them together, to give them a life, to give them each other -and all it has done is torn them apart, sent them seeking answers in areas of life that only end in death, and erased any hopes of them ever having a life.

I guess I should have given it up years ago. But at least I can honestly say I tried. I screwed up. I failed.

I can look into the eyes of the well meaning by standards who have told me time and time again to stop trying, to give them up, to let it go -and say “You were right.”

Once again.

“Why?”

It’s the question I have pondered, asked, and wrestled with for as long as I can remember.  It’s the question I have been told not to ask, and the question that I have chased -up and down all sorts of rabbit trails, desperately seeking the answer to.  Believing that if I could just find the answer to the shortest question, that maybe just maybe I could rest.

I asked the question at every stage of life, through every trial and success.  It has always been there and I suspect will always be there.  But over the past few years my desperate need to know the answer to the question why, has eased.  If ever so slightly.  I have come to terms with some of the long sought after “Whys” and have settled on my own answers that range from real reasons to “Because, that’s why.”

But when he asked me the question, eyes pleading -I couldn’t answer.  In that moment I felt the pressing weight of what he carries around everyday, and an understanding -a connection, with the boy who I always assumed “Had it together.”

While I have long since been the first to admit that I don’t know everything, admitting in that moment that I didn’t know -was among the hardest things I have ever had to do.  While somewhere deep, deep down I knew the answer he was looking for was just that -giving him permission to continue on the way he was, I couldn’t muster up enough courage to tell him.

To tell him that there isn’t a reason why for everything.  That only few, very select things will ever make sense in this world.  That there will always be a question why, but there won’t always be a reason why.  That sometimes things don’t make sense, and that I myself have tried -desperately, to find the reason why -more than once, and not just for him, but for myself and others as well.  But sometimes…life just doesn’t give us a reason why.

It throws everything it has our way.  It shoves us down, and kicks us while we are down and doesn’t expect us to get back up again.  It beats us into the dusty ground, and tramples us again and again.  It turns its back, closes its ears and doesn’t care that we are so close to giving up.

But it doesn’t always give us a reason why.

I didn’t tell him that I understood his very question.  I knew the look in his eyes, and the tension between his ears.  I didn’t tell him that I knew what it was like to want to sleep the days away, and find some sort of relief from it all.  I didn’t tell him that life just sucks sometimes and is confusing and frustrating and hard and pointless and everything else that they just don’t tell you about these days….

Instead I told him that I didn’t know.

That I didn’t have the answer to his question.

And while part of that may have been true, I’m afraid I led him astray.

No, I don’t have the answer.

But I have been there before.  I have been in the exact place he is now -wanting and wishing for it all to just end.  Cursing the sun when it comes up and begging for relief in the night.  I have been there.  I have asked the same questions to whoever will listen and heard the same answers -over and over.

I knew what he wanted me to say, and I couldn’t say it.

I couldn’t tell him the reason why.  And not because I don’t know the answer.  But because the reason “why” is different for him than it is for me.  My reason why, won’t match his.  His won’t match mine.  And me telling him my reason?  Won’t make any sense to him.  Me helping him find his reason won’t help him.

Because as much as I want to just shake him, and maybe slap him upside the head a few dozen times and yell until he hears that there IS a reason, he just has to find it -I know that at this point, it will just be another meaningless answer.  An empty return.  So instead of letting him down and giving him MY reason why -I gave him the tiny shred of hope that was once given to me…

“I don’t know why.”

And hoped that it was enough.  Enough for him to grab a hold, to find the strength to try again, and one day maybe he will be able to tell me the same thing.