When Carter is coming down from a rage episode, after he’s done screaming and cussing and trying to claw his face off, he sometimes looks into my eyes, and says, cold as a dead fish, “I’m going to kill myself someday.”
The prayers that start moving through my body when he says that are jibbering, tiny birds, banging around inside my ribcage: Not that; please God, never that. Never. I can’t survive that. Please, God, what do I do? What do I do? WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdo?
What I do is look back into his face and say, firmly, “I will never let you do that. I love you and want you here with me, in our family.” I say this with conviction, but I know that he won’t always be a 50 pound, 7 year old child. Right now we can protect him from himself, but there will come a time when we can’t. God help us, sometime in the next 6-7 years, he’s going to have testosterone flooding him from ears to toes.
We’re living in the desert, nothing but sand in every direction. There are no landmarks, nothing to give us some idea what comes next. Oh, yeah, I know, I know, nobody knows what comes next. Yeah, I get it. But most of the time, we kind of do know. Yes, something could suddenly happen, but it probably won’t. Us? Will Carter grow up and become an independent adult? Or will he end up in prison? Will he need us to take care of him forever? Will he need an institution to take care of him forever? Will he even survive?
And wow, ain’t I just a ray of sunshine? A suicidal 7 year old will do it every time. Tomorrow is Gaudete Sunday (joy and rejoicing) and I’m supposed to talk for 10 minutes during the sermon. Methinks I could struggle, writing joyful words tonight.