Trigger warning – suicide/loss of a child
I don’t know if I like this cinema, it’s not like the one at home. I want popcorn. Why is that man looking at me? Where is the door to the cinema? Why are there so many flavours of popcorn? Which do I choose? Oh that’s a bright light.
Maybe we should have gone to the cinema we usually go to, this one did seem louder than normal. My son did not cope well with the change, the noise, the seats, all of it. We leave quickly and aim for the nearest take away restaurant. It’s right across the road and we need to eat.
The road is too busy. I’m so confused. There are too many people here. Too much noise. That man is speaking to me, was it me? I don’t know what he said. I can’t get that siren out of my head, it’s piercing my brain so I can’t hear what’s going on. Choose? I cant choose. There are too many pizzas there.
I didn’t realise the take away would be so loud. As I struggle to take my child back across the busy road and into the lift to the car I can feel the distress coming from him. My only thought is to get him in the car and get him home. I open the car door and tell him I will give him his pizza when he is in the car. He thought he was getting it now.
Why can’t I have my pizza? My head is hurting now. It’s all too much. I don’t know what my brain is doing, I think nothing. I feel nothing. I’m numb to it all. I’m not in control of my legs. They start to run as fast as they can. I run from my feelings, from the noise, from the popcorn, the seats, the light, the siren, the crowd, the takeaway, the lift and the pizza. It’s all so much that my brain isn’t thinking any more. My legs just want to get away.
It’s happening so fast. Yet so slow. It’s been a minute yet time has stopped for a lifetime. There is no time to react, yet it is playing out so slow in front of my eyes, like a scene from my worst nightmare. But it’s real. I watch. Helpless. My baby vacantly runs with nowhere to go. Effortlessly he climbs onto the car park wall, about to leap over to…to the ground far below. Before my feet can move I open my mouth and scare myself with the sound that comes out.
The scream! That sound piercing through the nothingness in my head. I hear that one. It’s not a noise I’ve heard before. Mummy! Mummy I’m scared. I slip and fall. Mummy!
I’m not crying. The tears are there inside waiting for later when I know they wont stop. For now, I’m in overdrive. My heart is pounding as I hold my child so tightly that I don’t think my arms will ever let go. They do though, only to put him safely in the car. I don’t know how he fell back towards me, but when I think about it later, its something I will always be grateful for. I quickly flip the child lock to closed so he cant open the door. He isn’t trying to get out though, he’s crashed. Exhausted. Me too.
Emotionally drained, I dare myself to look. Slowly I creep towards the wall. On my side it is hip height, not high enough really, yet so high on the other side. I look down. A long way down, to the distant concrete floor below. I allow my mind to half think the thought I don’t want to think and then shut it off again.
Feeling sick, I quickly get in the car. As we drive home it’s almost silent. My child’s sobs blend into the hum of the car as it monotonously joins the other cars on the motorway. The hundreds of others unknowingly going about their day. I put my hand to my face and wipe the tears running silently from my eyes like the raindrops running down the wind screen.
I know tomorrow he will have forgotten, I’m not even sure he knows. It’s the same with every meltdown. Life carries on. I will never forget though. I feel helpless. Determined. Confused. Scared. Lucky. Thankful, and everything in between, yet numb. The memories of that day will forever be etched in my mind, a stark and haunting nightmare of a reminder that a child so precious to me could be gone in a meltdowning instant.
Note from the author – I’m sorry if this post upset you. It was a difficult one to write and it has taken me a long time to do so. I think however that it is a necessary reminder. A reminder to risk assess everything, even the things we don’t always think about. It also highlights the need for councils that don’t, to wake up and realise that autistic children should be allowed a blue badge to ensure their parents can park safely.
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