The nausea started as soon as I got the call a week ago Monday. Jack had attacked a number of people at school, including a kindergartener, and had been taken by the police to juvenile detention.
It persisted through each follow-up phone call over the next week:
*the group home, apologizing as they said they can no long care for Jack
*the manifest meeting with the school team, where his teachers cried as they said they love Jack, but he is suspended from school (with at-home instruction of a teacher) for 45 days, or until we figure out a more appropriate education setting
*the Child Protective Services guy, who said someone (I know who) made a case for Jack being neglected (he’s not; what he is, is difficult to care for)
*the county court clerk, who called us about the charges the kindergartener’s parents are bringing against Jack; which, following a psychological evaluation, will be thrown out, but will prove to the state that Jack needs greater levels of funding for more intensive care
*the neuropsychiatric hospital, reinforcing that they don’t have room for Jack to be admitted
*one of the other group home providers, wanting to know the extent of Jack’s aggression before determining if they can take him into their care.
Things are in limbo as we decide what’s next for Jack. This moment does not come as a surprise to us. Since Jack was in the hospital during the month of December, Jeff and I knew his current placement would not last, despite everyone’s best efforts. He needed a change, and the recent behavior incidents have forced the issue.
But still, the nausea. Even when I truly believe God is driving the bus of Jack’s life, I can’t see just exactly how the future will unfold. I’m queasy and struggling to eat. And sleepless in the wee hours of the morning.
Also, my back and shoulders hurt, because they just do. At my physical therapy appointment this week, I stopped halfway through the exercises and said if I kept going, I was going to throw up. The PT and the assistant were sweet and concerned as they made me sit down, bustling around me with ice, pillows, and water. They told me to ease off on the frequency and intensity of my exercise routine while my life is in turmoil. And they massaged the knots out of my back before sending me on my way with their best wishes.
I feel moderately peaceful, at least on the surface, but my abdomen is telling me that subconsciously, there is a substantial level of worry which persists.
In the meantime, I’m teaching and grading, Henry had his first prom, and Charlie had his 10th birthday. Because life doesn’t stop for one kid and his uber extensive needs.
Reader, the crux of the nausea is this: my anguish has been tied up in the unknowns of Jack’s suffering.
He is lashing out. Is he miserable? He is aggressive. Is he in pain? He can’t speak. How deep is his frustration and suffering?
I’ve curled into a literal and figurative ball around this torment as I’ve worried about Jack.
Last week, my neighbor called, saying she needed to come see me.
I don’t know her well. She barely knows me. She was insistent. I said okay. We sat down in my living room late Friday night and this is what she said:
“I was told to come talk to you.”
“By who?” I asked.
“Jack.” she said, never breaking eye contact. “Jack came to me and told me to speak to you and tell you he is FINE.” She emphasized this word.
My initial response was complete disbelief, reinforced by all the reasons why this could not be. Yet, even as that thought materialized in my mind, an outside source pressed instantaneously and deeply into my psyche, overpowering my skepticism. It was a profound whisper that said, “This happened. Believe her.”
Warmth flowed through my arms and chest.
She proceeded to tell me that her whole life, she has experienced spirit-to-spirit communication with people who haven’t been born yet, who have died, who are in comas, and (apparently) who are disabled. It took her years to understand this for what it is–a spiritual gift which isn’t for her benefit, but to help people around her. She doesn’t talk about it, because you know. Awkward.
It happens when she’s sleeping and in a dream state. But, years of this have taught her, she’s not dreaming. She’s seeing people’s spirits. She doesn’t know them, but they come to her spirit because she knows someone who knows them. She wakes up and writes down whatever she saw, for accuracy.
She told me that Monday night of that week as she was sleeping, she saw Jack and he spoke to her without using words.
She didn’t at this point know that Monday was the day Jack lost his mind and went crazy at school.
We looked at each other, blinking.
“What did he look like?” I wanted to know.
She shrugged, “Like himself.” He looked like he currently looks. “But,” she continued, “He isn’t disabled. His spirit is NOT disabled. He is …” she paused, “remarkable.”
She proceeded to say that Jack told her to talk to me and tell me he is okay, that his spirit is not suffering. He wanted me to know that despite the chaotic events, he is fine.
My neighbor looked at me and nodded. Then she smiled softly.
It’s not really possible for me to verbalize the emotional relief I experienced at this moment. The tears spilled down my cheeks, the tension in my shoulders ebbed, the writhing pit of anguish in my belly disappeared.
Jack is not suffering.
Jack is inwardly at peace.
The things that are happening around him are simply things.
But Jack, my Jacky, is FINE.
There was an exquisite silence as I processed this.
After a time, I inhaled and exhaled. I told my neighbor that when Jeff and Peter gave Jack a blessing Tuesday night after the children’s hospital ER and before we returned him to his group home, I’d had a distinct impression as soon as Jeff started speaking. I heard a voice in my head say, “Jack is filling the measure of his creation.”
This gave me pause. “Filling the measure of one’s creation” is a phrase in my faith that we sometimes associate with animals in mortality. I salted it away and determined to think more on it. I did not yet understand.
My neighbor said, “I don’t have words to explain things, other than describing what I see. What I observed is that there is some level of separation between Jack–his body and his spirit.”
Whereas you and I are all in, so to speak–fully immersed in our physical bodies, she saw that Jack seems to be somewhat separate.
“It’s like he is watching himself on a movie,” she described.
He is filling the measure of his creation.
This phrase which had blasted into my brain during the healing blessing suddenly made sense to me.
His body is filling the measure of its creation. He was born and he is living, going through the experiences of his life. But Jack’s spirit is not trapped or imprisoned or in perpetual anguish, as I feared. His body is growing and eating and often hitting or biting people. But his spirit is…fine.
His spirit is beyond fine.
My torment is gone, replaced by the empty fullness of relief.
This is how I know, dear reader, that peace is real in impossible situations. Jesus carries the sorrow for us, while sending actual relief from anguish.
I just re-read in 2nd Nephi that “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost.” They straight up do. This is real to me. Even in the depths of the pit, God sends people to be with me.
Before she left, my neighbor said, “Jack isn’t just here for you. He is here to teach many people many things.”
This is the part that profoundly affected Jeff when I recounted the conversation after she left. He and I have always known this about Jack. But the fact that she said it was a confirmation of both Jack’s purpose and ours as his parents.
He is an eternal being. So are we. My dad is, too, though he’s currently separate from us.
I feel as though if I work toward it, God will lift off the top of my head and send a pillar of light to fill it with more understanding.