We Cannot Take Her Home

2003 Carol A. Echternach

And so 5 years later, it seemed inconceivable that I could stand there in the emergency room, once again, after many visits, visits for so many reasons my head was exploding with the too tightly packed memories. Memories that seethed with anxiousness, and nausea, and fear, and panic. Memories that overwhelmed me so that I felt I would faint, or fall down, or throw up, and sweat. Sweat that seemed to erupt from every pore of my body, as I stood there, for I knew the consequences of my words.

That I could not take this child home. That her needs exceeded my abilities, that her pain was not within my nurturing, that her conditions were beyond my resources. I stood there amongst the stainless steel tables, and polished linoleum floors, the abhorrent nurses and the slack jawed child protective agents, and said I would not take my daughter home.

The neatly suited social services lady asked me slowly and willfully "do you understand the ramifications of what you are saying ma'am?", I looked at my husband, and over to my beloved Lana, curled up amongst the smooth sterile sheets and newly warmed blankets, crying "they don't want me" they hate me" and I said once again

"I cannot take her home"

I knew what that meant to me, and my husband and my family. But they did not understand.

They could never know of the chilling terrors of living with a child who could take a knife and slice herself willfully, climb on the roof of the house and threaten to jump, hoard and take pills for the slightest infraction of her constant demands. Who wails, and screams, blood curdling ferocious gut wrenching screaming, that never stops until the neighbors call the police, and they all come in droves to constantly remind me, how to be a good parent. Who can, in an instant, change from a sweet loving affectionate child, to a red faced bloated sweating monster who takes captive the whole house, the family, as she rants and rails, and threatens to do harm, to herself, or to me, her mother, who loves her beyond reason. I who have spent countless hours, reading, researching, have lost my job, my passions, my interests, to focus willingly, intensely, passionately, on anything and everything spoken, written, or taught about children such as her.

Lost children, children with no connections to their own self, who look at themselves in the mirror for hours and are surprised that this image is their own. Children who were not loved when they were but fetuses, not yet breathing air, wrapped in their mothers womb, growing in a bath of salt water and ethanol and the sounds of hysteria outside their warm room. Children who received no blankets, or nipples or pacifiers. Who cried with no answers or touch. Who's wet tears were not blotted, whose cold feet were not warmed. Children who laid alone, agitated and forgotten. Children who grew up not trusting or knowing who wants them, loves them, cares for them.

And so, later that evening, after many papers were signed and many emotions were squelched and many faces were averted, we left the hospital without our daughter. We walked desolate, arm in arm out of the sheer glass sliding doors into the cold damp dark night air, leaving our sweet precious one behind. Leaving her to the system, to legions of other people, people we did not know, who did not know her but postulated that they did. Postulated and prescribed that they could help her, support her, and raise her better than we her parents. That they had all the answers because they were larger, bigger, richer, more organized, more well supplied, more adaptive, more educated.

We left our cherished child behind, our precious treasure. The child we swore to love forever, to never leave, to care for until we died. The daughter we waited our whole lives for, who we gave and lost our whole world to. Slamming the door on our past years of love and turmoil with her. Of immense passion and monstrous confusion, of life living on the edge of someone else's sanity. We left her because we no longer could provide for her, our well was dry our pockets picked clean, our lives a shambles.

And she in her twisted innocence, whom we adored, had taken all we had to give and needed even more~

Carol A. Echternach
Orange County, California

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