The Bravest Person I Know

I want to be like him.  I really do.  I don’t know anyone braver.   When I see him handle things courageously and bravely, I want to be like him.

This young man — my 20-year-old special needs son Trot — by all rights has more things to complain about than you can imagine.  God knows, he has had one cognitive and medical challenge after another.   He handles things with bravery the way I would want to.   I believe that God is telling me to be more like Trot.

So many people complain about the little things — such as going to the doctor, routine checkups, kids having the flu or a cold; it could even be someone not inviting them to a party or some other social snub. I’ve been guilty of that myself; I don’t always handle little things well.  When I think about what my son has gone through, the little things seem to be just that — little. 

Trot has had seizures, starting at about 18 months, over and over. The first time he had one, we thought he was dying.  And he’s had them ever since.  Trot has different types of seizures.  The most significant are when he loses his balance and control of his body, falls to the floor unless someone catches him, his arms flail, and his eyes twitch.  Basically, in those moments, his brain is short-circuiting.  It’s a scary, scary thing.  

When the seizures pass, he’s wiped out, depleted.  But he’s still brave — God yes.  He’ll bounce back and I’ll say, “Trot, you doing okay?” He’ll answer, “Yeah, I feel fine.” 

He tries to make it as if nothing has happened.  I think he wants to make us feel at ease.  This is remarkable, when you think about it.  If I had a seizure, I think I would be terrified.  

Trot was born with challenges; yet, he was born with special gifts.  

He has the gift of making you feel at ease; it makes him feel good.   He knows that he is different. He acts as if it doesn’t bother him.  I think Trot wants to show us that he has strengths that others might not have, perhaps as a way, in his mind, to compensate for the challenges we face as a family.  But I don’t know for sure.

I do know that he is fearless — and sweet. If he sees a child crying, he rushes to that child.  He hovers; he wants to help stop the crying. He cares.  About everyone.  

In addition to seizures, and an array of special needs, Trot, due to medical challenges, has had a series of surgeries. There have been five, covering almost every region of his body.  He has had medical test after test; often, they are painful. 

I cringe when they stick him over and over with needles, searching for a vein.  He doesn’t flinch; I wince.  What father wouldn’t?  But this young man — my son — looks at me with a smile, urging me, in an unspoken way, to be brave. I think he senses an opening to excel; to surpass the ordinary; to be extraordinary; to inspire me.  It’s a moment that enhances his self-worth.

After telling him how proud I am of him for being so brave he'll say, "Thanks Dad." Then I look at him with love and ask him if he'll go with me and hold my hand whenever I see a doctor.  Trot will smile at me as if he wants to comfort me, and then he will tell me, “Ohhhhhh Yeah!!! But remember Dad, be brave like me!” 

Trot had to wear a brain monitor for two weeks and at another time a heart monitor for two weeks.  They limited his ability to move around, play and have fun.  Yet, beyond his frustration that he couldn’t do his usual activity, these restraints did not disrupt him.  He retained his spirit, his outlook and, most remarkably, his concern that my wife Anne and I might be worried about him.  “Are y’all happy?” he would ask.

My son had a seizure walking down the street, fell and hit his head. He was lying in the street when a neighbor found him. We took him to the emergency room, got him patched up and he never complained.  All he said when the ordeal was over, was, “Let’s go to Sonic.”  Oh, and then he added, “Are y’all happy?”

I believe that part of his thinking is that he wants to regain normalcy as soon as he can after a seizure or mishap.  I think he wants us to feel good immediately.  It is an inspiring trait, particularly coming from a young man who has such extraordinary challenges.  He wants us to be happy.  When we are happy, I surmise, all is well in his unique universe.

I admire my son.  He is my hero. He embodies everything a hero should be. Courage, bravery in the face of adversity, unselfishness, the desire to help others, and — I’ll tell you — he’s fearless!  

Anne and I are very proud.  Exceedingly proud.  Every day I marvel at Trot. His brave behavior is consistent; it’s woven into him. 

What will life be like for him when Anne and I are gone?  It’s something I worry about often.  However, reflecting on his courage and unique strengths, I sense that somehow, somewhere, Trot will do just fine.  

I must be brave and believe that.