I have been rear-ended three times in the last two years. The last time totaled my car. I was not injured, although I was not sure of that at the time, and so they whisked me away in an ambulance. It was about a ten-minute ride and I threatened to go beserk on them if they did not loosen the straps that were holding me onto the stretcher. I'm not a real assertive person, but I was successful that night in acknowledging my needs and getting them met.
I still will tap my brakes on and off if I am slowed down or stopped and see someone in my rearview mirror who seems to be coming up to me a little too quickly, or if someone is following too closely on the interstate. I can't help that. I don't want to be rear-ended again.
That's the nature of what I have been through this year with my son. The problem will never go away entirely. I will look nervously for some time into the rearview mirror to see what is coming from behind that might catch me (and him) off guard.
I have wondered why I keep looking back, why I need to write these things out in here, why these dreadful memories of how it was last year at this time keep flashing back in my mind. The worst of the problem seems to be behind us now, and he seems to be on steadier ground these days. I should be celebrating, and for the most part, I am. But I have come to see that it is a sort of post-traumatic stress I suffer from.
Looking back, I am amazed at how far he and I both have come. Looking back, I am surprised at the difference a year can bring. Looking back, I am grateful and appreciative for the hands that have reached out to me and steadied me in countless small ways through the year, in spite of my tendency to be very reserved in acknowledging pain or need of any kind.
There have been those who have listened without the need to try and fix any of our problems, those who have reminded me that I have done the best things I knew how to do at the time. There have been the hands who have surprised me, the ones I thought would surely judge me for my predicament, and have reached out to me, and to my son in practical and concrete ways that spoke volumes to him about the caring nature of other people who knew me and not him. There is the mentor who was praying for such an opportunity as this, a man who has so much in common with my son, and who has been another pair of hands for my him.
There have been those people who comforted me even though they lost their own sons to the battle my son has been fighting. My heart breaks at the irony of that one. I don't know why that would be anymore than I know why a tsunami would flow onto a crowded beach half way round the world from me. There is no logic, certainly no reason my son would live and theirs would die. I never really ask why a bad thing would happen to me, I often ask why a good thing would happen, for I am no better, no more deserving than the next person.
But now I have taken my look back. I have seen the depth of the gorge we nearly slipped into. And now I want to look forward and outward. I want to be the kind of hands that have touched me this past year: quiet, unassuming, gentle, non-judgmental, present.
And yes, my image is corny, but God, I am grateful for each hand that has touched me through this year.