Saturday, December 15, 2007

Globe Story "The Boy in the Moon" (Part 3)

Following on from my previous post, and updating this post, Part 3 of Ian Brown's moving story "The Boy in the Moon" is now posted on the Globe site here. Here is a sample from this compassionate and insight piece of journalism from an obviously loving and caring father:

Walker makes people cry too. It can happen any time and to almost everyone who meets him, eventually.

They aren't tears of loss, or pity. I think they're tears of gratitude.

The handicapped remind us how dark life can be — every life, not just the handicapped ones. Born out of darkness, to head immediately toward that other darkness, with only a blink of light between. That was how Samuel Beckett put it. Most of his characters are legless, or confined, or without reason for hope.

So when Walker does anything to suggest there's a point to his life besides pain and isolation, it seems particularly brave. For a boy like Walker, an ornament on a Christmas tree is like the ark of the covenant. Even if my son is trying not to succumb to pain, and suddenly finds it bigger than him, and is stricken with grief at his defeat, at least he had hopes of beating it. There's a cup of grog for the undefeated, as a friend recently put it.

I think that's what the weeping is about. Walker has the same effect as the ballet: They both can reveal the larger shape of the world.

....Walker was saved by medical technology. I am grateful, but under my gratitude lurks a terrifying question: What would have happened if nature had been left to take its course? We saved his life, but is it a life he finds worth living?

....The biggest challenge, I find, is to be optimistic. Not about Walker — he takes care of that — but about his future. The longer I spend in the world of my son's disability, the more people I meet who rise to that challenge. They are some of the most impressive people I've ever encountered.

...I only wish I could believe in his God as well. Because the truth is, I do not see the face of the Almighty in Walker, and it would demean him to try. Instead, I see humanity, the face of my boy. Walker is no saint and neither am I. I can't bear to watch him bash himself every day, but I can try to understand why he does it. The more I struggle to face my limitations as a father, the less I want to trade him. Not just because we have a physical bond, a big simple thing; not just because he's taught me the difference between a real problem and a mere complaint; not just because he makes me more serious, makes me appreciate time and Hayley and my wife and friends, and all the sweetness that one day ebbs away. I have begun simply to love him as he is, because I've discovered I can; because we can be who we are, weary dad and broken boy, without alteration or apology, in the here and now. There is no planning with this boy. I go where he goes.

...Not long ago, I had a dream about Walker. He was in his new house and I was visiting. He was very, very, very happy: He still couldn't speak, but he understood everything and could instantly convey all he wanted to say, in murmurs. After our visit, he walked me to the door of his house to say goodbye, and stood there, beaming. His housemate Chantal, or his other friend Christa Lee, or some combination of the two, was behind him. It was clear she was his girlfriend. That pleased me: I knew he had finally found someone to love and someone to love him, not just in the public way everyone loves Walker, but in a way only he could understand — his own private love, at last, to give and receive. And he loved me, and I loved him, and we both knew it. He smiled as I said goodbye, and gave me his blessing. He had forgiven me for his life. But in the end it was just a dream.

Many thanks to Ian Brown for sharing this story with us.