I have lost a child, but not in the way you might think. From the moment of her birth it seems that Emma was up against it. The month she came into this world, her dad left it. There would be no Daddy daughter dances, no one to call her Daddy’s little girl, and no strong arms to pick her up when she would fall. And so I cried.
It would become apparent in the coming years that I would lose her to a thing called Autism. Learning anything was difficult. Friends were non-existent. Simple things were herculean tasks.
As time went by, she would make slow but steady progress. I pushed, pulled, and dragged her into our world and out of hers. She would never be able to live on her own, never get married or have children but in her own way she was successful. So, for a while, I found her. She was no longer totally lost in her Autism.
Then on her 16th birthday I lost her again. At first I didn’t know where to look for her. She stood right in front of me and yet I could not see her, I could not reach her. She was lost to mental illness. I had no personal experience with mental illness so I did not recognize it when it came. I did not know the signs; she slipped away from me suddenly. Would I ever find her? I wasn’t sure. I search and searched, and finally, I did find her, but it took work. I had to be vigilant. I had to hold on tight and for a while, it seemed that we beat back the darkness. And all was good.
Several months ago it returned. This time so severe, so all encompassing it took my breath away. This time Emma is truly lost. Not just for hours or days or even weeks. It is months that this harbinger of evil has stayed. The sweet girl who loves music and running is someone I do not know. Someone I do not like. I can find nary a trace of my girl. I look for her everyday. I have spent countless hours looking, hoping, and praying to no avail. She is lost and this time I fear the worst that I will not find her. Ever.
It seems hopeless. Not only have I lost Emma but now, it seems, I too am lost. Perhaps, one day soon I will spy my girl on the distant horizon and shine a light so she can find her way home. Till then, each day I will search and call her name in the hope that she will find me.