Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It could have been our story

I wrote this little message to my friends on Facebook, on June 4, 2007:

I'm posting this to 'vent'. I've got a blog to do this stuff, but right now this seems easier.

We have had a really scary weekend. As our friends know, our 4 yr old twins have autism. There's always something new to worry about with our boys. With Will, one day it might be that he refuses to walk because he needs/wants to line his toes up together and won't take a step, the next day he may decide that he's set rules up around food and he won't take a bite. This weekend he thought it would be fun to run away to our nearby provincial park & the Bow River.

I'll leave out the details, but you don't have to be a parent to know how terrifying this was for us. Jonathan was in the washroom, home alone watching the kids yesterday when Will made a run for it out the front door. By the time Jonathan discovered he wasn't in the house, he had to leave the other two boys on their own so that he could run & search. He made it all the way to the Bow River and fortunately, a group of women stopped him before he could go right in. They contacted the police and Jonathan had some explaining to do when he got there. Will was oblivious to all of the excitement and his only scars were the smattering of mosquito bites he got from being in the bush.

We've got an alarm system that was installed for this very reason. Sometimes Will gets up while we're sleeping and we don't hear him and he wreaks havoc throughout the house. He's got a chime that goes off when his bedroom door opens so that we hear that he's awake and all of the exterior doors have an alarm when they are opened as well. But it's summertime and our windows are all open to keep us cooled in the heat and the birds are louder than the alarm so we are not hearing it.

We woke up this morning to find no Will in his bedroom. No Will anywhere and the front door wide open. This time we think he only had five minutes on us and Jonathan sprinted into the Park while I drove the neighbourhood, looking for him. Lucky for us some cyclists on their way to work on the paths along the River, found him and stopped him.

In only his PJ bottoms, a non-verbal little boy running in bare feet. He's safe and already trying to pry open the lock on the back door to get into the backyard as I sit here writing this. New locks are out on the table, ready to be drilled into the doors and a call to the security company is on today's agenda to figure out how to make our alarms louder.

The worry never ends.

When it was written, Will had yet to come his closest at causing this family a lifetime of heartache. He succeeded in reaching the rushing river and jumped in, lured by his fear and the rush of adrenaline he thrives off of. Again, someone was watching over him (and us) and a man walking by saw him go in and he jumped in after him.

I don't tell this story without emotion or off-handedly. It remains a reality in our life and it rears its terrifying head every now and then when we least expect it and become nonchalant. It is the fear that makes my blood run cold and the nightmare that wakes me, while I'm left with the chills, remembering how I just jumped in a river and came out without my little boy in my arms.

My thoughts have been preoccupied the past two days, as the story hit the news of a missing 7 year old autistic boy who went missing in Nova Scotia, without a winter coat, after wandering off into the woods, following his dog. James Delorey went missing Saturday afternoon and although it was happening on the other side of Canada, I'm sure anyone who has a connection to someone who has autism, was glued to the story as I was.

He could have been Will. He could have been Owen.

He's non-verbal. He doesn't respond to his name. Lost.

His mother must have lived in terror. How can you get through the night knowing your baby is out there in the woods in the dark. In the freezing winter cold.

When we hear of stories like this, it's almost automatic to create a detachment so that you can 'cope'. If you don't learn the details, you don't have to feel bad. If you listen to the facts and turn your brain off to the imaginings of how the players in the story are feeling, then you don't have to feel anything at all other than interest. I try. I try so hard to not care. To not pay attention. To not dwell on the details. To leave the news in the newspaper and walk away unaffected. But that's not who I am. I'm a try their shoes on kinda person. Sometimes I wish it weren't so, but it is.

So when I heard about James, I immediately ached for his family and for him. I imagined the worst, but I hoped for the best. I joined the facebook group created to share information and coordinate the prayers for his safe return.

Today our prayers were answered and James has been found. His dog, Chance, came out of the woods this morning and returned home. Rescuers were able to follow his tracks that led to an unconscious and severely hypothermic James. Barely alive, but alive. He is currently in hospital, in critical condition. 

I watched his pictures flash across the screen and had the vague thought that he had that sweet look that my boys have, that many children with autism seem to have. A look that almost seemed familiar to me. 

Then an image of James flashed of him wearing a graduation cap.


It reminded me of Owen's graduation cap that he wore in August when he graduated from his school program:

Take a closer look.

Owen's therapist came to our house tonight for a session, quite shaken up. It seems Owen was James' classmate this year, here in Calgary. Before his family moved back East to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

It could have been our story. This one's too close to home.

Please, please, please say a prayer for James and his family. And for all families who live with these truly founded fears. Pray James' story doesn't repeat itself for anyone else and that he comes out of this healthy.

For more on this story: click here.


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. I just can't imagine. That poor boy. :(

Sarah @ When two becomes three... said...

HI Stacey:

when I first heard the news story, I thought of you and your boys. It was such a relief to know that James was found and he continues to be in my prayers.

Safety is such a huge worry and issue. Stay strong.

Caution Flag said...

Oh yes, I am praying for James and for all families who have to live in a hyper-alert state all the time.

Galen said...

I'm another one of those try their shoes on kind of people, and my heart aches to think what James' parents went through...and what so many parents go through with some of their kids.

SamiJoe said...

this world is just too small sometimes.
glad EVERYONe is safe.

Aunt Juicebox said...

I'm sorry to see that this little guy has passed away, but at least he was found. On Thanksgiving day while we were visiting relatives out of state, an Alzheimer's patient wandered off into the cold with no coat on. Her body was found 4 days later. Hundreds of people gave up their Thanksgiving day with their family to search for this poor woman. =(

Unknown Mami said...

This is just heartbreaking.

kys said...

How terrible for him and his family. I will put them (and everyone that this could happen to) in my prayers.

otin said...

That gave me chills. My thoughts are with the little boy and his family.

Santa Claus said...

I shall say a prayer for the young lad. My heart goes out to his family and to you for having such a caring soul!

fancypants said...

How terrifying that is for that family and for you. I will keep you all in my prayers.

Nezzy said...

WoW! This story blows me away. My heart goes out to the fam who lost their child. My heart leaps for joy with the safe little guy, thank God for dogs! I often pray for your boys safety. As a retired Special Ed. instructor I realize how smart and resourceful these precious youngens are.

Have you ever thought of trying the alarm system they use in nursing homes. A sensor is placed on the PJs and goes off when the patient arises. Now some of the residents figured the darn thing out and would just take off the jammies to run around at night. My daughter was a nurse there at the time. Just sayin' you might give it a try.

Have yourself one blessed day!!!

Anonymous said...

I cried as I read this, because I could just feel your heart breaking for James. To know that this was so close to home really breaks my heart. I cannot even begin to imagine Ethan getting close enough to a river to jump in. All those angels that were nearby to save your little man were placed there for a reason. I really believe that. I will continue to pray for not only James' family, but you and yours that you stay strong because your family needs such a proactive woman like yourself to keep them safe. We love you Stacey =)

tori said...

just came over from otins blog roll...your story gave me chills. will pray for James.

The girl with the flour in her hair said...

This made me want to cry. I'm sorry you've had to go through this. So stressful...I can't even imagine. Parenting non-autistic children is challenging enough. I'll definitely say a prayer for James's family and your own...

You should read this blog:
She's a great person and both her children are autistic. You might like reading it!

Erin said...

This post makes my problems pale in comparison. I admire you and other parents struggling with autistic children. My thoughts & prayers are with the family. I know this must be a really difficult time.

Santa Claus said...

Merry Christmas from me and my buddy, Otin!! Hope you come back blogging soon.

Unknown Mami said...

Hey there! Hope you are enjoying the holidays with your family. Just wanted to let you know that you are going to be one of the featured blogs for the month of January at Life2Us. Hope you are well. I miss you.

Mrs4444 said...

You had the added stress of knowing that this worry will be with you forever (or until there is treatment for autism). I trust that you are taking it one day at a time...

April said...

April Cartwright stopped by. I'm the mom of a 20 year old girl with severe autism. I have to surf from the library when I get my much needed respite time. I'm a friend of Wendy's and she told me about your blog. Your children are beautiful.

Viv said...

Stacey, the bloggy world misses you! Are you hanging out somewhere else entertaining the masses?


Just another blogger who misses you stopping by to say "hi" and that I miss reading your posts. If there is anything anyone can do for you, please let us know.

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