Saturday, July 9, 2011

Reliving Zachary's moment: By Rebekah Aldridge, Guest Post


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!

by Rebekah Aldridge  "Make the best decision you can with  the information you have at the time."

17 comments:

Little Bitty Things said...

Wow. What a moving post...

Thanks for the follow - following you back now!

Kelly said...

Wow! This is heartbreaking. It brought me to tears. I love the picture of you and your son in your header. He is beautiful.

Rebekah A. said...

Thank you both for reading our story! Kelly: Zachary is amazing, thank you. :)

Terry said...

This post knocked the wind out of me. You are a testimony of strength and love...even when you may not feel like you are. Thank you for opening up and sharing. You are an inspiration...following you now.

Anonymous said...

Hi

Theresa said...

As I read your letter, my first thought was what a great woman, then I said what a wonderful mom, but as I read on with my tears preventing me from reading clearly, it hit me. This person is my savior today. You have saved me from all the guilt and feeling so sorry for myself and my son Nicholas. Your mom was absoluetly right. I to have scars. Only to have been put there from me, and me alone..Thank You so much for your kind words and such inspiration about Zachery..

Rebekah A. said...

Terry: Thank you so much for your kind words.

Theresa: When I reflected on my writings, I realized that we all have a wound. Mine was so secret that not even my own husband knew about it. That is a scary thing. I am so glad that sharing my experience with you has helped you discover your own wound. It is discovering that wound that will help you know to heal it and move on. The guilt I used to feel about Zach was so heavy that I could not carry it. Some days it even seemed hard just to get on with my day. It ate away at me like a slow agonizing disease that controlled my flesh. I laugh with my friend, she asks me how I overcame the depression and anxiety and guilt; I tell her I fell to my knees, put my butt in a pew, my face in THE book. Being a mother is hard enough, but learning how to take care of a child that is special needs is really really hard some days. I know that you treasure your son Nicholas, I can see it when you are with him. You are a great mom and know that you are strong too! I pray that now you can heal from your wound. Hop to talk to you soon!
Rebekah

shopannies said...

loved reading your post come see me at http://shopannies.blogspot.com I am a new follower of yours

Wade A. said...

No matter how many times I read about this or hear about this, it's always gives me goosebumps or brings tears to my eyes. Rebekah you don't need me to tell you that you are a remarkable woman and a phenomenal mom; how you live, the friends you keep, and how behaved and well mannered your children are show all of that. -Wade

Jackie said...

Wow. This is the first time I have read your story, your link for "Who I am" from L&LB. Not only am I impressed with your job as a mother, but I appreciate how you handle situations, by making people feel stupid, but doing it nicely.

Pleemiller said...

the depth of your pain coupled with the well of love shows your inner strength....
thank you for sharing your story with us....
blessings.

bethannchiles.com said...

I came over from The Lightning and The Lightning-Bug and was just so moved by your post. I loved what your mother told you --so true. There will always be a scar --that is very true. You have chosen the high road and your son is the evidence of that. Your love for him is evident in everything that you write and I am sure that the recent current events have irritated that scar a lot this week but you will make it through. It was hard to read your post, it really was. The mom in me just wanted to cry for the injustice but what a great example you are to your son and to those around you. You Rock!!!

CinfulCinnamon said...

It's only human to have that one thing that we "draw the line in the sand" about. One of my most favorite lines from a movie came from Tommy Lee Jones in 'Lonesome Dove'. When the cavalry guy was whipping Newt (Tommy's son in the movie) to get his horse, Tommy's character rides up and beats the tar out of the guy with a branding iron until people have to pull him off. He then gets back on his horse calmly, brushes himself off and say, "I hate rude behavior in a man. I won't tolerate it". I feel the same way. Courtesy is paramount in my life. And sarcasm is the sword I use to combat it.

Good luck to you and your family.

Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

This is such a moving and powerful story. Rebekah, thank you for sharing it with us. I sometimes am floored at the insensitivity of some people and the sheer strength of others. Yes, you will always have that scar and careless things that people do or say will sometimes reveal it, as will events that remind you of your own sorrow. But you are an amazingly strong and incredibly powerful person; it is obvious from your words and the way you share you story.

Thank you, Stacie, for linking this up at Lightning and the Lightning Bug.

Savvy Working Gal said...

Rebekah - Your heartbreaking story puts into prospective what is truly important. My pesky little problems are so insignificant in comparison to what you and your son have endured. I admire your strength and am humbled by your message.

Beverly said...

Rebekah, I got here from FTLOB, you are the link before me (I'm a first timer :> ) and what a gift to be lead to your blog and your post. I pray that the rawness from the wound be opened up this week subsides quickly and you continue to rejoice in the blessings of the son, fmaily and friends you are surrounded by. Think I need to go click on follow, you are a woamn I admire.

Slidecutter said...

Not having something to say doesn't happen to me often, Rebekah but your post has left me speechless, hurting inside and also feeling so fortunate in finding you through blogging.

As a child abuse survivor, I want to immediately run and hold anyone else who has suffered, in any degree, the same.

From here, all I can do is send wonderful thoughts and prayers Riley's way; will leave it to you to give him a hug from a caring stranger.