As Ben grows, and grows up (he will be 27 next week), it seems increasingly clear that his maturation process is in slow motion – but that it is happening, however slowly. This gives me hope, and great joy – as long as I remember to stay in, and enjoy, the present.
The Medicare issue seems to be resolved for now – a few calls and one visit to the Social Security office, where even the caseworker struggled to understand the government language of the letters I’ve received as Ben’s conservator. I felt much better, and less stupid, after witnessing that.
Ben has called me three times this week with good news. Twice to tell me about good grades for his school assignments (!!!), and once to tell me he has a job interview on Saturday, which his job coach will help him prepare for. Yes, there was another call with another agenda – he and a night staff person in his group home are butting heads, and it’s frustrating for him; but all in all, the good news calls outweighed the calls for help, and that’s a miracle I’m savoring. I do think Ben is showing amazing progress, especially now that he’s been on his medication more consistently, and out of the hospital for a few years. Could his brain cells be in repair mode, as research suggests?
If the other shoe falls – and family members of people with mental illness live with that, always- I know we’ll handle it somehow. Meanwhile, I’m choosing to be happy! And to notice that Ben is showing signs of maturity that I prayed for while he was in high school, in what I now know was the early stage of his illness. He’s doing his homework! He’s even earning extra credit. He does not WANT to miss class.
So he’s ten years behind in exhibiting these signs. Ten years behind kids who are luckier than he was – lucky enough to have unimpaired brain chemistry. This is still progress -and I’m so proud of him. Let this be a sign of hope to parents who are still lost in despair. There is hope. Patience. Do your best, and savor the good moments. With luck, there will be more of them ahead.
Ask about Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey through Schizophrenia to a New Normal
contact Claire Gerus, firstname.lastname@example.org, literary representation.