The definitive seeds for this blog bloomed in late 2013 and early 2014. But what if I said the germination of those seeds began years before?
In 2009, I met someone who was making some very poor choices with their life. They told me they had a child with a lot of problems. One night, that person had to take their son to the hospital. I thought about meeting the person to talk to them about those very poor choices, but the son’s problems took front and center. I went to Bayhealth in Dover that night after thinking about it for a couple of hours. As I walked in, the person didn’t see me. I saw them rocking this teenage boy child in their arms, back and forth, back and forth. While I didn’t agree with this person’s life choices, I understood how broken they were. Their entire life was devoted to helping this child. I could tell they didn’t have a support system that allowed them to get the help they truly needed. I walked out of the emergency room waiting area and drove home. It was about 2am in the morning. I talked to the person briefly a couple of days later but I lost track of the person and I have never seen or heard from them again. I’ve always wondered how that person and the boy were doing. I’ve never shared this with anyone until now, not even those closest to me. But it stuck with me for some reason. While I’ve been blessed in many ways to be able to give my own special needs child the most basic of comforts, there are others who are unable to.
Almost two years later, I had a dream one night. It was the most bizarre dream of my life and I remember every single detail of it. Terrorists were launching a full-scale attack on the airport in San Diego airport. I was on a plane attempting to take off in the midst of fire and carnage. I looked out the window of the plane to see fire and death on the ground. People were dying before my eyes as I flew off into the sun setting over the Pacific. As dreams go, moments shift in the blink of an eye. The plane was flying towards a mountain. There was a flat area so the plane could land. There were not that many people on the plane. We got off after a bumpy landing to find soldiers escorting us to a door in the mountain.
We walked into the mountain and I quickly realized the world was ending. Inside the mountain was an entire city. It was built like a mall with different stores and what I could only call processing centers. I walked into an auditorium and saw children and teenagers. All of them seemed like there was something unique about them. While I didn’t realize this in the dream, I believe they were special needs children. Those with Autism, Aspergers, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, OCD, ODD, and the different. The separated. The cast out. They were told to listen and behave. I knew instantly that something was very wrong with this whole scene. For some reason, I got a job at the mountain as a guard of some sort. I walked around this mountain mall for a while. People were walking around and seemed happy, but I noticed I didn’t see any of the children that were in the auditorium. All the people walking around were grown-ups. What happened to the children?
I found out the answer to that question. Soldiers were placing corpses on a conveyor belt which went through a door to the outside. I got close enough to take a peek out the door and what I saw horrified me. Children were being sent into an outside furnace. Some of the children were still alive as they were led to the slaughter. A guard motioned towards me and I woke up from my dream.
That dream haunted me for months. One day at work during a break I happened to see a newspaper headline about a mountain in France that was attracting New Age followers. December 12, 2012 was fast approaching and they believed this mountain in the Pyrenes chain would save them from the upcoming apocalypse. They call Bugarach the “upside-down” mountain based on its geographical structure. That apocalyptic moment never came in 2012. UFOs did not take the New Age followers away to some interstellar promised land. But when I read the online article about this bizarre mountain in France, they showed a picture of it. It was the exact same mountain as the one in my dream. Granted, there was no revelation about a mountain mall at Bugarach. I began to do tons of research on Bugarach and found some bizarre stuff.
It was more the dream that stuck with me. When I began this blog, I did a couple of articles on treatment of those with disabilities in history. It really isn’t until the past fifty years that those with disabilities began to gain the rights they should have always had. I even incorporated Bugarach in a never-finished series called “Delaware Horror Story”. Maybe one day I will pick that up and give the history of what happened to Mike Matthews and Paul Herdman when Sussex County was wiped out due to melting glaciers. But not today. For me my dream about Bugarach and the dark horrors within represented a potential future to avoid at all costs.
So why am I just now revealing these what could only be viewed as crazy moments in my life now? First off, the topic of that person I met with the child at Bayhealth recently came up. I didn’t realize what an impression that made on me over the years. I didn’t know the first thing about special needs, how to advocate for rights, or certainly any knowledge of how to help a child who was clearly suffering. As far as the dream, I have tried to get back to that dream in the six years since with no luck whatsoever. It was the worst possible future for these kids. Do I think that could really happen? I pray to God not. But if you asked someone if the Holocaust or the wholesale slaughter in Rwanda in the 1990s if they could have foreseen those moments, perhaps not. History is filled with such atrocities going back tens of thousands of years. Like I said, history is filled with very bad treatment of anyone different. As I said in the intro for this, these were just seed germinations. The simple truth is this blog would have never happened if not for the very difficult birth of those seeds bursting to life all those years ago. For some, it seems like just yesterday that late 2013 and early 2014 happened. For me, it feels like a lifetime ago. Along with all that came before that.
I see what is going on now in our world. In America, we seem more divided than ever. I don’t see the “growth” happening for students with disabilities that all the faux Common Core believers profess they are having. I see people at each other’s throats over party lines. I believe we are fast approaching a tipping point in society. A line will be crossed and there will be no looking back. But I also have hope. Hope that we can overcome our differences and unite to help all people.
Last Friday night, I attended a candle-light vigil for Lieutenant Steven Floyd in Dover. For those around the country who read this blog, Lt. Floyd was the correctional officer tragically murdered in last week’s prison siege at the Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, DE. I saw hundreds of people paying tribute to a man that saved others with his actions. He was and is a true hero. Everyone who attended this vigil, along with the accompanying tribute in Smyrna, was there to pay tribute and to mourn. As we held our candles up high for Lt. Floyd, I remembered another evening where many of us lit candles to remember.
It was after 9/11. I lived in California at the time. Word was going around on the internet that everyone should hold a candle-light vigil one Friday evening. I went outside and found people just coming over. Some I had never met before. I became the de facto leader of this group and started to speak. This was something I never did before. I thought, “Why me?” But I got through it. After everyone left I felt a feeling of peace. In the midst of unspeakable tragedy, people could still unite for something bigger than themselves.
In the span of my life, my advocacy for special needs, opt out, and getting rid of corporate education reform is still in its infancy. I truly don’t know what will happen next. Things are moving very fast and there are many things I need to put in the “unable to control” box. While I was blogging, life continued to move forward. I’m at a crossroads with many things in my life right now but I know I have a few things in my corner: friends, hope, and love. Will the dreams of yesterday and missed opportunities create change in the future? Time will tell. But my days of living in darkness, of drowning in it, will not define who I am. It will not shape my world any longer. I refuse to let it.
At the vigil last Friday evening, a Reverend spoke to the crowd. His final words resonated with me like no other words in a long time. I can’t remember it verbatim, but he was talking about how much people need help from others. How so many of us just walk right past them. He said we should only be looking down unless it is to lift another person up.
When we are fighting on Facebook about politics, are we really contributing anything worthwhile to the world? Do we really believe a local fight on Facebook is going to change the shape of a nation? Are we that self-absorbed to think that? I am not bemoaning standing up for rights or what you believe. What I am criticizing is the way so many of us are going about how they convey their beliefs. If making a point hurts someone to a level where the words “I’m sorry” are said, it has gone too far. If friendships die forever over this stuff, that is the truest shame in the world.
The driving force for this blog has evolved in the past couple of months. I felt I said all I needed to say about certain subjects. I was no longer in a place to do vast amounts of research and spend so much time on it. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I still am in some respects, but I’ve also experienced a reawakening I never expected. Here comes the future.