my dad, who had requested a trial by jury because he hopes to be released from his confinement at a state hospital, was seated a few rows ahead of us in the defendent's seat. he was dressed in a borrowed gray polo shirt, black suit jacket, and slacks. it's the first time in 14 years that i've seen him not wearing a state hospital or jail imposed jumper.
i was in a room with him for 5 hours. i've never been in a room with him for 5 hours.
i sat behind him thinking about how dark his hair is. noah has his dark hair.
i noticed his posture and how much he looks like his father who raised me.
i thought about a lot of things for those 5 hours.
i missed him.
it was the second time michael has seen my dad.
my dad noticed us in the courtroom. he waved and smiled.
we spent a majority of the day listening to his psychiatrist and psychologist answer questions about my dad and his mental illness- schitzoaffective disorder/depression.
they shared about the symptoms of schitzoaffective disorder/depression: paranoia, delusions, auditory hallucinations, disorganized speech and thoughts, and clinical depression.
they shared about my dad's daily life in the hospital, and about how the symptoms of his illness manifest themselves through him.
i wasn't surprised.
i'm not a stranger to his illness.
i wish i was.
i wish he was.
it is sad.
mental illness stole my dad from me.
and not just from me, but from my siblings, my grandparents, his sisters.
we mourn the loss of him everyday.
we were robbed of what could-have-been and should-have-been.
butbecause he lives in a state hospital (in a controlled environment) i have a gift i never hoped to have when his mental illness was intensified by 27 years of drug abuse.
i now have the ability to on rare occasion (when he agrees to take his meds and the illness is being managed) speak with him and even visit him.
on those rare occasions i experience brief moments in conversation of "normal."
for a moment he is glad to see me or hear my voice, and especially glad to see and hear the voices of his grandchildren. for a moment he delights in and expresses his love to all of us. the moment passes too quickly as the symptoms of the illness swoop in and consume him again.
but for that moment i have the gift of my dad.
i have a moment of should-have-been.
yesterday both the psychiatrist and psychologist testified that my dad is mentally ill, that he is not in remission, and that if released he poses a threat to others.
this morning a jury will decide if he is to continue residing at the state hospital for treatment, or if he is eligible for release.
it is my prayer that he is not released.
it is my prayer that he continues to reside at the state hospital and receive treatment and care for his mental illness.
after court the psychologist commended my strength to be there for my dad. she recognized my tear-stained state and acknowledged how emotionally difficult it is for family members who have lost a loved one to mental illness.
it is hard.
it is not fair.
there is a void where my dad is suppose to be.
He really does fill the void of father with Himself.
"Thou my Great Father,
I Thy true son (daughter),
though in me dwelling,
and I with Thee one."
(from the hymn, Be Thou My vision)
(from the hymn, Be Thou My vision)
And just like a Father should, He comforts,
He speaks truth into the questions, fears, and lies,
And He causes me to Hope in Him for my dad, who my Great Father loves.
*UPDATE* Good News- my dad will not be released from the state hospital this year.