Friday, April 02, 2010

What’s so Good about it?

Good Friday. The day Christ died (supposedly). Day of penance.


I have a memorial to go to today. The 16-year-old son of some friends died suddenly in his sleep. He was autistic. I knew him.

I met him several times. He used to smile a lot, and out of nowhere sing Mary Had a Little Lamb. He didn't always know his own strength. He once came close to breaking the nose of the church worker who was watching him during a service.

This boy isn't getting a funeral procession. The citizens of Elyria aren't putting his name on banners so they can be seen mourning, they aren't laying teddy bears at the doorstep of any residence or place of business, in fact, the majority of this city is going to go to bed tonight and wake up in the morning and not even realize that the 16-year-old son of some wonderful people isn't coming out of the ground, he isn't going to get to roughhouse with his little brother anymore, he isn't going to give another hug. As if the presence of a badge makes a life more valuable than another.

This is affecting me like a death hasn't affected me in some time, and really, it shouldn't. This isn't my story. To come out in a blog and talk about the tears I've shed for this boy makes me just as bad as the leaches who put up ever larger memorials to a police officer just so the Chronicle-Telegram photographer can grab a shot and put it on the front page. Doesn't it? I don't know. One thing I do know is this. I have an autistic son. I have an autistic daughter. And I can't process the idea that someday my son could die in the same way. I just can't get past that idea, that a part of you could disappear and you would be expected to go on living. It's like someone taking your lungs and telling you to breathe as before. Taking a piece of your brain and telling you to think. Taking your legs and having you run a marathon. You can do it, but it would be a lot easier with the parts you had before. Wouldn't it?

And with all due respect to my Christian friends, shedding tears does not hint at some lack of belief in the resurrection of the dead. Shedding tears makes me a human being with emotions that work, emotions that I was created with.

My son hurts himself. He bangs his head on doors, on walls, on filing cabinets. He has a foam rubber helmet, but if he doesn't want to wear it, he isn't going to. I sometimes spend whole days attempting to keep him from doing harm, to himself or to us. But if it was a choice between the stress of raising him or the sorrow of losing him forever, I would take a lifetime of abuse just to keep him in my arms.

But one couple doesn't have that luxury anymore.

And I think more people should care.

And I think more people should stay home from Tenebrae services and make this couple a pot of soup, or a lasagna. Or give them a hug.

I don't think Jesus would mind. In fact, I think Jesus has plans tonight.

He's attending a memorial service at Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church. You'll be able to spot him.

He'll be that long-haired guy standing next to the casket, weeping.


Blogger MistressAuthor said...

This is very deep and really touched me. Seriously, it brought a tear to my eye. I work with autistic children, i'm a service provider for Special Needs. And it always is a touch more depressing when one of them goes, especially so unexpectantly.

I'm sorry for the loss.

You're a great writer and I can't wait to read more from you.

8:12 AM  

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