By Dejah Henson
I have endured and borne for love.
I have been abused, abandoned, and neglected; and,
I have been broken.
I have hemorrhaged real and invisible blood from my mind, my soul, my spirit, my heart, and my body.
I have walked alone.
I have gone for days, with barely any sleep, and tears running from my eyes.
I have been criticized and judged;
I have given up my identity to the point of being inhuman.
I have made some of the best and worst decisions of my life.
I have been an addict.
I have been a runaway.
I have seen things that people see only in movies.
I have slept in elevators, outside, in motels, or not slept at all.
I have been to rehab.
I have been to jail.
I have gotten clean.
I have done this all before my 18th birthday.
I have stayed clean.
I have had five children.
I have tried to do things different than my ancestors.
I have experienced life, on life’s terms, regardless of my plans.
I have taken care of 5-7 people at a time.
I have been through divorce twice, then poverty.
I have lived in motels with my children.
I have sat in my car, wondering what I was going to do.
I have been pregnant and heard, “There’s something wrong…!”
I have sat in an empty hospital room, after delivery, with nothing but a picture.
I have experience with machines like ECMO and ventilators.
I have had to leave my baby at the hospital every day, then come back every day.
I have pumped breast milk, to be frozen, then thawed, and fed to my child through a tube.
I have learned about missing diaphragms, diseased lungs, brain cysts, hydrocephalus, bowel obstructions, and
ligated Carotid Arteries and Jugular veins.
I have had to learn how to work machines, give medications, and even breathe for my child when he quit breathing.
I have learned words like tracheostomy, Mic-Key Button, feeding pump, and Ambu-Bag.
I have had people tell me I should let my child die, or that I should put him in a home and not listened to them.
I have had someone tell me that maybe I was too weak to take care of a baby with problems, because I cry too much.
I have watched people stare.
I have watched people ignore.
I have called ambulances and traveled to neurosurgeons for love.
I have had to stay at hospitals for lengths of time.
I have had a small hospital in my home.
I have prayed and begged.
I have watched blood coming out of places of the body that it should not.
I have cleaned up green bile, blood, and cerebral spinal fluid.
I have held my child in my arms while he screamed, shook, and chewed into his hand.
I have held him while he endured the pain with no narcotics.
I have fought with doctors, nurses, specialists, teachers, fathers, myself, and God.
I have heard words like Deaf, Autistic, and possible brain damage.
I have watched my child endure more surgeries than anyone should ever have to endure.
I have counted 29 scars, from the top of his head to his groin
I have let my child play outside on a beautiful day, thinking it was wonderful for him to not be in the hospital and
that it would make him strong;
I have memories of my daughter screaming that her brother is in the pool.
I have dropped the phone and ran to find him floating on the water.
I have screamed and cried, while I called 911 and I pushed on his chest.
I have watched cops and DHS crawl over every inch of my mother’s property trying to figure out if someone had
killed him on purpose; Somehow I didn’t shoot myself in the head.
I have washed the dirt from his body. I prayed by his bedside, and made the decision turn off life support.
I have held my child in my arms as he breathed one last breath.
I have watched my best friend take my child from my arms and place him in a Coroner’s bag.
I have had to wonder how a child can be in a box, instead of riding a bike.
I have held on to the ashes of my child, because I have no family plot and I didn’t want to leave him with strangers.
I have had someone ask me what type of font I would like on a child’s headstone.
I have blamed myself.
I have walked through darkness so full of hate, bitterness, and madness, that I knew how monsters were made.
I have had to listen to people talk to me about how God has a purpose, and how God has a plan, without punching
I have made sure that I use no drugs, drink no alcohol, and stay away from anti-depressants, so that I wouldn’t try to
kill myself with any of those things.
I have had to suffer several severe mental and emotional breakdowns throughout his life, then after his death;
But, I never gave up or ran away.
I have screamed, yelled, and said and done things, when I was mentally unwell, that I regret.
I have had to beg, steal, and borrow courage deep, just for the will to live.
I have lain on the couch crying, deep into the night.
I have lost short term memory; and, I have suffered from mental confusion, slurred speech, and anxiety attacks,
because the trauma was so bad, that it was a brain injury.
I have watched my other children struggle.
I have nursed headaches, stuffy noses, swollen tonsils, Autism, ADHD, Hepatitis C, flu, depression, bullying,
scraped knees, heart break, and grief, for my other children.
I have had to put everyone in counseling several times.
I have had to get up and learn to live again, for the sake of my children.
I have been in Complex PTSD Trauma Therapy and Grief Counseling for over a year.
I have had to walk down inner roads and remember things that make me shake and puke.
I have had anxiety attacks, and insecure breakdowns, when PTSD gets triggered; but, I have not given up.
I have had to learn to socialize in new ways.
I have stayed up late into the night talking life and death with my children, answering questions and holding them.
I have done my best to help them rebuild; and, to begin to live in a way that was not possible when their brother,
then Mother, was sick. We are all learning to laugh, talk, and live again.
I have had to find strength, courage, faith, hope, beauty, and gratitude again.
I have to keep trying.