It isn’t possible when negative emotions stick around and cloud my thoughts.
It can’t be doled out quickly when constant reminders of an offense surround me.
As many times as I’ve thought about how to come to terms with my reality, finding forgiveness hasn’t been one of those things on my list of things to do.
To forgive and let it all the evils wash away—the guilt, the pain, the anxiety, the despair.
To forget and be free of those negative emotions that linger—the anger, the disappointment, the difficulty.
Can I really do that?
Can I truly forget how Ronan’s downward spiral began?
Can I honestly forgive the ills that brought Ronan to where
he is (and isn’t) today?
Can I totally look past the medical neglect we discovered only too late?
Can I completely overlook the medical abuse I didn’t recognize?
Can I fully embrace the life-long struggles Ronan may face?
How do I accept all of that?
Here’s what I can accept. I can accept that all of that did happen to my child, but I will not accept that it had to happen.
Here’s something else I haven’t been able to accept. Not because I turned it down but because this too hasn’t happened yet—no one has yet to apologize to my son for the opportunities he’s missed, for the childhood he’s lost, for the pain and the complete health he may never regain.
Come to think of it, I think my whole family could use an apology. Shouldn’t someone have said sorry to me and my husband for the extra stress, the time lost and the things we’ve been denied as Ronan’s parents? Shouldn’t someone have also begged forgiveness of Ronan’s siblings for being gypped out of a playmate and a typical brother and their own altered childhoods?
When are those apologies coming? I’m not saying I’m holding out for those before I can forgive and forget, but it sure would be nice for someone to admit that they played a role in all of this.
Forgive and forget. As much as I’d love to, oh how I’d really love to be able to say to several of Ronan’s former doctors, “Hey, Doc, I forgive you…..”, but right now, today, this week with what Ronan’s gone through and with what I’ve had to fix for him, my apology isn’t quite ready. In fact, it might not be ready for a long time.
To offer forgiveness, if I really, really had to do that today would be a bit jaded. It would go something like this:
Dear Doc (and whoever else had a hand in destroying my child’s life),
I know you’re just a human. I know you probably thought you were doing the right thing for kids including mine. I understand that you have more professional training under your belt and loads more formal education than I do. But I have a feeling though that your laziness, pride and greed muddled your thoughts. How else did you let what happen to my son happen?
I totally get that you’re super busy and patient care isn’t what it used to be or should be. I know how easy it is for your patients to slip through the cracks just like Ronan did. Clearly you’re overwhelmed and understaffed. What other excuse could you give for watching Ronan decline as he did?
I know you thought my kid wasn’t going to be the one to have an adverse reaction. I know you never imaged he’d now be that 1 in 88. But he is. And he tumbled onto the spectrum right before your eyes. And you didn’t see the warning signs. And when you did you never thought to make it stop. And now he’s living with preventable delays that your actions contributed to.
I’ve waited a long time to figure out if I need to forgive you. I’m honestly at a standstill even thinking about it. I really don’t know how to say this, but I do think it’s time for me to say something. So, here goes.
I’m sorry you didn’t open your eyes to see the red flags being waved right in front of your face. I’m sorry you weren’t proactive or as concerned as I. I’m sorry you were clueless and that your ignorance failed my child. I’m sorry your medical knowledge of vaccines paled in comparison to mine. I’m sorry you were ignorant of the answers from my endless list of questions. I’m sorry you wasted my time telling me ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘to just wait it out’ when Ronan needed help right away. I’m sorry I didn’t leave your practice and dangerous decisions sooner. I’m sorry I didn’t know as much as I do now. I’m sorry your patients’ parents are still accepting the drivel that comes from your practice about vaccinations, unnecessary and hazardous mind-altering medications and overly-prescribed antibiotics. I’m sorry I have to tear a new one into you now because I should have done it sooner.
No parent should feel as alone, scared, worried, angry and as destroyed as I felt while Ronan was under your care. No parent should witness what happened to their child like I did. No one should witness that and later be told it was acceptable damage for the good of others.
No parent should walk through life not knowing what to do next. No parent should have to face the agonizing decisions I’ve had to. No parent should have to fight as hard as scores of parents now have to. No parent should be left high and dry with nowhere to turn for help like so many other parents have. No parent should expect or demand an apology from someone who promised to do no harm in the first place. None.
One more thing, Doc. When one forgives his offender the last part of the apology usually includes not only a renewal for the relationship to be whole again, but also a promise, a promise to never commit the offense again. See, that’s a problem. Not on my end but for your apology, when you make it….it won’t be a true apology if you are still doing to children what you did to my son. You still promote what injured Ronan. You still haven’t heeded the warning. You still don’t see the big picture—that one-size-fits-all really does not fit all. You still jeopardize for the greater good.
You can’t help make this all go away until you take a step back. Not until you look at the children you treat as human beings instead of collateral will you be ready. When that happens, and when you rectify what you have helped destroy, then we can talk.
It’s with a heavy heart that I apologize that I cannot truly offer any forgiveness. I pray to God that I can because it’s nearly impossible for me to stop thinking about how Ronan and countless other children ended up where they are today. Someday I hope to have the strength to completely move past the pain and sadness. One day I’ll be able to find forgiveness. Until then I’ll be here waiting for you to offer yours.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.