Chandler’s bed is made up nice and straight. It looks just like it did yesterday; that’s because it is. No one has touched it. It takes courage or an unhealthy forgetfulness to even walk through his bedroom.
Marti and I have been under the radar for some time while contemplating what decisions are best when caring for Chandler. We experienced many sleepless nights, and are constantly praying.
Finally, after exhausting all other options, we have determined we must place Chandler in an out-of-state residential treatment center. This has been, for us, the most difficult conclusion we have ever experienced and one that was, obviously, not made in haste.
Children turning against one or both parents is commonplace and has nothing to do with anything we can fully understand. We think — no, we don’t think … we know — that what is happening with Chandler now is one of his greatest battles, scheduled to unwind from his soul and take place out in the open air in the fullness of time. Marti says she was born with about six of these battles in her soul, and out they came, in turn, and it was devastating. You, probably had about this number, too. (I’ve kept all mine inside, which is worse.) And Chandler gets his. Feeling that we have failed him is completely understandable and completely not true. Yet we feel it all the time.
Actually, Chandler has been fighting battles his whole life that no child should have to fight.
Since he was very young, Chandler has overcome terrible obstacles every day. We don’t even know the extent of his pain, except that the carefree joys of childhood have escaped him. He somehow went from toddler to being a sad man and skipped all the fun part in-between. He is bright and gifted, loving, a joy to his family with a life full of promise. But as he made his way in his world, he was diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities, including severe dyslexia. Early on, a panel of experts concluded that the best schools would not be able to even teach him to read, so he must be classed as mentally retarded. He has since proved them wrong. He can read, but not well enough to rise above the underachievers.
He could not have been more loved or safe than where he was — a precious part of our family. We provided greatly for his future and averted dire and increasing risks by contributing to his special education. However, something went terribly wrong, perhaps as early as this time last year. A promising young life became burdened heavily and early this last school year by deep and great trouble. All the pent-up frustrations of not being normal boiled up uncontrollably. It seems like we have spent a fortune on noted psychologists and special educational programs. Yet, the lure of unmotivated peers and his belief that he could not be who we believe him to be took its toll, resulting in a boy who came to believe that marijuana was the only thing that could calm his personal demons. He chose it over life itself. And it has, indeed, taken the life out of him.
Fearful that we could no longer keep him safe, we appealed to the local school district which became instrumental in securing Chandler’s placement in a highly-acclaimed and specialized treatment center where he will be for an undetermined amount of time. Thus, our much-too-quiet home.
So we have joined the ranks of those who face failure, sadness and scratch out hope every day. It is a painfully good place to be. It is a place where grace is raw, real and gritty. Not just something to talk about, but something you hold onto for dear life. We walk around in a little bit of a daze, feeling the loss as if there has been a death in the family. But the grace that is here for us is most certainly here for you, too. Take it. We all need it; it’s just that sometimes we forget why.