"While time does offer some relief and a new sense of normal, there are still countless emotions and sensations to muddle through. There is no roadmap or guidebook that works in all cases or scenarios and while the stories of others can offer guidance, they cannot tell you how your journey is going to unfold.
All too often, I forget that Ryan was only 10 when his Mom was born into eternity and he still has moments when he is processing all that has happened in his young life. He has made tremendous progress on his road to healing, but still there are some potholes in that road that manifest themselves in the form of a "blown out tire".
My boy is the perfect combination of his Mom and I. Every time I look at him, I see those big brown eyes and am reminded just how much he looks like Theresa. I love to tell him that he's fortunate he got his looks from his Mom and not from me! He also got his complex emotional makeup from his Mom.
One of the hardest things you encounter, especially with children, is memories are found all over town. Every time we went to church, it was the church his Mom was buried in. Every time we went to a restaurant, it was a restaurant his Mom went to. Every time we walked into our house, it was the house his Mom died in. We moved from that house to another one, in another part of the Tucson area. While that helped to eliminate some of the memories, there was no getting away from the ones all over town.
Over the past year so many things that seemed like roadblocks and foolish detours, have shown themselves to be essential in the journey of mending while blending. In no particular order, our family has had to figure out how to get through all of these things:
- Dealing with Ryan in a new school, a new district and middle school - Middle school is trying for anyone..but how much more trying for a child with autism, dealing with the loss of a parent and dealing with a school staff who really aren't trained to handle that child.
- Dealing with Jennie's girl's father - Here was a guy who first said that he was ok with Jennie taking the girls to Tucson. His exact words were, I'm not going to fight about a couple of miles. Despite repeated assurances that he was going to have this document drafted, he changed his mind putting up another hurdle for us.
- Counseling - To help Ryan along his journey, we visited several counselors for him to work out his feelings and emotions. None of the ones we used were able to crack through the exterior.
- Single dad - No matter how much you care, no matter how hard you try, a Dad just can't be a Mom. Of course, that is true in reverse as well.
- Outside influences - There were many things people said, things people did that caused hurdles for us. One of the strangest series of questions came along the line of: Have the children met? Is the father of the girls still in the picture? Do the children get along?
- The moving of Jennie to Tucson - While this one seemed to be a giant cluster, it turned out to be a great move. When we realized that the girl's father had been stringing us along, I called my boss the next day to see what my odds of moving to PX HQC were. He told me he would check and within 24 hours, I had the approvals I needed from FBI management to make that happen. I put my papers in for the move and it was approved, with a report date of December 17th.
- Jennie knew of a school called Gateway academy that specializes in kids on the autism spectrum. We visited the school and knew it would be a great fit. The only issues was the tuition of $25K per year. Again, the hurdle was overcome when Ryan qualified for an ESA scholarship that pays the entire amount.
- We found a great house in Cave Creek with a floor plan that was ideal for our unique family situation. We have a guest casita for Mom, two jack n jill bedrooms for the girls, one bedroom with bathroom on the other side of the house for Ryan and a master bedroom away from all the craziness.
- We found a counselor that Ryan has opened up too, and one that is making a difference.
As I said above, things that seemed like roadblocks have turned out to be blessings:
After Ryan was established at Gateway, things came up that he had been holding in for nearly 2 years. Despite numerous counselors and long talks about how he was doing, it took a school administrator knowing how to deal with an autistic child to get it out. One morning he got up for breakfast and his mom was sitting at the table. He said hi to her and she responded back, "Who are you?" He thought she was joking and said, "It's me, Ryan, your son." She shook her head, got up from the table and went back to her bedroom. He kept that to himself, finally telling me that he lost his mom well before she died. I knew the time frame and the cause of that. There was a period of time where she was talking to much of the Oxycontin and it caused several issues of forgetfulness and confusion. We were able to get that out in the open, get that cleared up and able to move his past that. All of this happened because of a move to a purpose built school that did not exist in Tucson.
More importantly, the smile has returned to his face again. While we still have much work to do in the journey forward, it helps tremendously that he again sees the joy in life. Thank you to all who have encouraged us along the way; thank you to all who have put up roadblocks along the way, encouraging us to smash them; thank you to Jennie for loving us and stepping in to the breach with me. My boy is in good hands. He has three moms watching out for him, (The Holy Theotokos, Theresa and Jennie). The proof is in the pictures....
Christ is Risen!
Indeed He is Risen!