In 9 years of being a mother of a special needs son, I think I have heard most everything you can imagine. From insults to injury and blessings to prayers. So it kind of comes without saying that you develop a thicker skin than most. Otherwise you would certainly be offended far too often than you would like.
Zachary enjoys yachting with his mom with Freedom Waters Foundation, above.
Anyway, every parent deals with their "wound" in a different way. I have chosen to see my situation as an opportunity to be my best (even though most days I do not feel like that). It has been 9 years since Zachary suffered severe abuse at the hands of his biological father which has left him with permanent brain damage and left paralysis. Even though my son is the victim of this abuse and I try not to be selfish about his situation, it has taken several years to try not to think about it. Until Tuesday, I thought that this wound has long healed. But I found out that not only is it still an open wound for me, but it is an ugly infected one that reared its ugly head this week. This is not to express my opinion of Casey Anthony at all, I am not here to solicit your opinions either. It is merely watching the outcome of her trial that has exposed my ugly, sore wound.
See, I am from Orlando and my son was abused in Orlando. We spent 52 days in PICU and most of those days he was in a coma. It took nearly 3 years to put his father in jail for his crime (which to this day has never been admitted by him). I faced many, many judgments from my family and friends by offering a plea deal as opposed to going through a trial. It's a very long and boring story that leads up to that point, but the short and sweet of it is that I offered (through the State Attorney's office) a 5 years sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. MANY people disagreed with my decision and thought that I was letting him off the hook far too easy for this life sentence that he served to my son. I have since settled myself with my decision and moved on.
I did not know that it was still a very sore subject until Tuesday. Because there was also such a lack of physical evidence in my sons case, his father could have walked out of that court room, just as Casey Anthony soon will. Again, I am not here to hear about her or others opinions about her but merely to share my wound process with you. My reaction to the verdict was outrageous. You would have thought that I was a member of little Caylee's family. I had to go clear my head, and after much deliberation with God, I realized why it affected me so much. This was my own little precious wound that no one has ever been able to see. Like a little secret I have been hiding from the world under this strong woman facade. It is never my goal for people to feel sorry for me in any way, my son is truly a blessing and he is a miracle child. He survived what most children do not and has overcome so much in 9 years. To get back on track, I thought these feelings were long behind me. The reality of it is that they are not. Since Tuesday, most of my family has called to say what a great decision I made 6 years ago.
"Good thing you chose to take the deal," "I was against you offering the deal, but I have changed my mind after today"... and other such things. Which I am grateful for! I have an amazing family, that has supported me and Zach through the most difficult of circumstances.
My point to all of this is that even though I have developed this thick skin to most everything, there are still things that can send me to my knees in tears. After all we have been through and the things I have seen and heard, you would think that nothing could faze me. So now I am working on picking myself back up and learning to deal with this new feeling that has sent me reeling. My mother said it best today when we were at lunch, she said "You have a huge scar. Even though your wound has healed there will always be a scar. Nothing will ever change that." She is right, no matter what I do that scar is still there and I was completely blind-sided by what was festering underneath it until it was opened and exposed on Tuesday. All I can ask for is prayer, that maybe with more time my scar will fade. I can tell you that 9 years later I still feel the sting of the day that changed our whole life. I would never trade one day of the life I share with my son, he is just awesome. But I would ask that if you read this and you see someone with a child that has difficulties or "looks funny," try not to stare or say something ridiculous, because that person has probably suffered a great deal and a harsh word will not make them feel any better.
I have developed a skill that I am not proud of since my sons accident and that skill is making people feel stupid while being super nice about it. Today at Calistoga, a man (I assume that he must have been starving) cut in front of me and let the door slam in my face. I had my 5 year old in one hand and my son in the other (by the way it is obvious that my son has disabilities, they are physical). Then he turned to watch the door shut in my face. I could have run in there and yelled at him, and called him was he truly was but instead I simply smiled at him and said "Here let me hold the door for you, I am sure you must be starving" and I walked away. I did not give him a chance to talk back to me, because in my opinion his comment, even if it was an apology, would not have mattered.
People are rude and there is nothing you or I can do about it, but maybe by sharing my experiences and Stacie's experiences people who read this blog could be less rude. Yes these things really do happen, it sounds appalling but it's true. Remember this, just because the child may not hear what you say under your breath, doesn't mean I can't. Thanks for letting me sound off!