(This is my last post on the events of 2001. It has been a cathartic experience, perhaps necessary. One I hope has enlightened you as well as enveloped you with memories of James.)
Jarred had the most loving heart of any child I’ve ever known. Many times when I went to pick him up from grade school, he would be standing in front of a child bigger than he was, protecting that child from an apparent bully. I’ve seen him run across the street to help little women with groceries or pick up something they dropped. Even small children, toddlers, who weren’t friendly with people loved Jarred, would climb all over him; even as he began exhibiting signs in his teenage years of odd behavior. Could they still detect his sweet heart in there?
But, also, as a child, Jarred was always “different.” He would have staring episodes as if in a trance. Petit mal seizures? He would grab his ears and complain of the loud water. At first I thought there was some slight autism although I really didn’t know much about that particular devastating illness at the time; however, he was doing okay in school, maybe he would just grow out of whatever childhood oddity he had.
I didn’t realize, when I would find the little guy sitting at night in the dark all alone in our living room, that he was living with monsters. I’ve since learned that’s what people with schizophrenia do. They stay up to protect their families; some sit at the kitchen table all night, vigilant.
I’ve since learned that what a child with a mental illness can hold together in grade school falls apart when that child begins changing classes. No longer is there the same desk to hold on to, the same room with the same students to bring some sort of stability to the chaotic mind. And it did fall apart. The childhood oddities gave way to serious problems with drugs and activities that were just inexplicable. There’s just too much to tell.
“You can’t tell me you don’t see those! They’re right by the window.” Jarred would hide practically in the floorboard, afraid to look but afraid not to lest a hell bird made it’s way into the car. I don’t know what they looked like; he tried to describe them, not believing us when we said they weren’t there.
“There’s a zombie standing right behind me. I can see it in the
mirror.” This was when he was at one of the half-way houses.
He ran into my room and jumped in my bed, scared to death, and as he lay in a fetal position, he said, “I’ve been so scared I couldn’t breathe.”
All he wanted, at 18, when he first really realized something was wrong, was to get well. “What’s wrong with me?”
And then, as time passed, he would cry and say, “I just want to die. Why doesn’t God just let me die?”
The big question I have asked God as well. “Why?”
Part of His answer is in Job 38 – 42.