Dark Years of the Soul

light shining in the darkDo you have places of darkness in your mind, where it’s just better if you don’t go? Places that if allowed will consume?

I do. It’s all tangled up with someone I love so incredibly that I can’t imagine my life without him, and that’s my son Josh. It becomes difficult, then, to separate out the love threads from the dark ones, to push the darkness so far away that I can’t be consumed.

Every now and then, though, something happens to bring the darkness to the front again. It can be a simple thing, like seeing a blind person trying to navigate across a busy intersection, and fear and wild imaginings grip my heart, while I repeat like a mantra “just don’t think about it just don’t think about it just don’t…”

Something happened yesterday that brought it screamingly to the front of my brain.
Josh is blind and has autism, a devastating combination, since most people with autism rely most on their sense of sight. Doesn’t really matter. We manage, and there is at least one thing that Josh knows: he knows he has people who love him and will do anything to protect him.

Josh goes to an Easter Seals program twice a week and takes the Access-A-Ride bus both to and from. Normally, my husband waits for the bus to drop Josh off. Yesterday, he didn’t see the bus, the bus didn’t see him waiting, and the bus driver decided it was okay to just drop Josh off alone. We don’t know how Josh got to the third floor of our building, but he did and he was trying to find our apartment, testing various doorknobs to try and get in. One of our neighbors opened the door when he tried to get in and was taking him down to the office when Steve spotted them. (Note to self: get to know the neighbors better.)

And my mind goes crazy.

I see the news reports about children or adults with autism getting lost, wandering away, and my heart always goes out to the family and then I promptly shut down. Better not think about that, my mind whispers. You don’t want to go there. There be monsters in those woods that will rip your soul out.

I’m having trouble doing that this time. My mind thinks about how scared and confused he must have been. I try to tell myself how great this was that Josh took steps to find his way, that he initiated, that he didn’t melt down, that he did what he could to problem solve.
But the grief and sadness and fear rise up. And the anger that it shouldn’t be this way.
Those are dark places with no light — much like my son’s world — and sometimes I’m afraid that if I revisit them, I will get lost there, that the tears won’t ever stop.

I don’t open up easily to people. The main reason is because I’m trying desperately through any means possible to keep that darkness at bay. Sometimes denial is survival.

If you count yourself as one of my friends, just let me know you have a flashlight.