Everyone has their own Everest to climb, but the truth is, some fall. Like Vicki. A life of chronic illness, trauma, fear, degrading, horrible and tragic memories. Loneliness and humiliation. Vicki had everything stacked against him through no fault of his own. He ended up in a sinkhole, which he dug, where he chose to stay, hoping to be invisible. It became a zone where he sought comfort, one he just could not move out of. It’s true that everybody has their own Everest to climb and everyone’s mountain looks different, but Vicki could not even lift up his head high enough to see the sun. He lived in the shadows.
Vicki, though physically present, left us mentally and emotionally a few years ago. At the legal age of 18 he ran away. 18-year-olds are legally adults, but maturity often comes later. He was just a kid when he boarded a train for Kolkata —the red-light district, to meet his mother. There’s no sin in wanting a mother; but there’s no sun in the red-light district. The choice was his; he was an 18-year-old child about to enter one of the most dangerous places in any city.
No one in his family has ever cared, yet Vicki imagined a mother who loved him. He couldn’t accept that his mother was unable to face her own tragic life and left him in a slum. A grandmother came and went, but there was no one for Vicki. He was brought into our community when he was 7. Everyone loved him and tried hard to be his family and take care of his needs, which were many.
Looking after children is what our community does. The children with us have uniquely sad, traumatic and horrific memories. Before they come to us, their lives are already stagnated. By giving children a community, they have a chance to find an open door, a way to be freed. For some it happens quicker, for others, it takes longer. But one thing is universal: They all yearn for parents—especially a mother. It is the most profound relationship in the world. No matter what a child does, a mother’s love won’t fail. That’s the cry in their hearts. Hearts ache for love. For family. That was God’s idea. God, who calls himself, “Father,” planned, from the beginning, an adoption process; a relationship closer than any mother or father can give to their own children. That is a mystery, buried with the ache we find in our hearts.
Vicki had more needs than most. When he turned 9 years old, he began to have violent seizures. Thrown off his bed, he’d land on the floor, bang his head and froth at the mouth. He was racked by headaches, broken teeth and bloody noses. His seizures were so violent that he ended up sleeping on a mattress on the floor for protection. He had many different courses of medicine. Some helped and some didn’t.
When covid began playing havoc, he had to do online studies. That was not the answer for Vicki. Screen time was harmful, his seizures increased. More broken teeth and bloody noses. Finally, I made an appointment with my neurologist and seizures seemed to come to an end. But Vicki never gave us enough time to know. Vicki ran away, leaving us struggling to understand.
Physically, he improved, emotionally he was a mess. Having had seizures myself, I understood some of what he felt. I’d also lost my mother and knew the ache. I tried to help him, and he loved talking to me because of our similar experiences. But it was useless. No matter what I said, or how I encouraged and coached him, he chose to drop out of school in 10th grade.
After that he went downhill fast. Vicki, who hated school, was a smart, intelligent boy. Even though he struggled, he did well in school. But he could not look past the present and see school as beneficial. Life for Vicki was a downhill rollie coaster—or a Ferris wheel, spinning round and round going nowhere. Everything in his life was negative; all the help and love, care and counsel given to him was unfruitful. Vicki was stuck in his sinkhole.
At 18 his head hung down as though weighted with bricks. He stared at the ground when he said goodbye to me, gave me a stiff hug with his head turned well away. He never even looked at me. He never said a word. I imagine him sitting alone somewhere looking at his feet. Nothing could stop him. Now we continue to pray—and worry about him (which of course doesn’t help).
Vicki ran away when he turned legal age
Still a kid in thought and mind—maturity had no meaning,
Counselled, advised, loved and cared for
Still, he chose to ride backwards against the current.
Logical solutions were not part of his plans
Hurt and confused, circling ’round as if on a Ferris-wheel
Lack of a family tore him apart, sickness left him lonely,
Flashing rights and wrongs, stops and skips littered his weary mind,
And yet, he loved every good and bad thought
He wondered, he pondered… he wandered.
Chronic illness attacked his brain, playing havoc on his fears,
Threw him down —on the ground —racked his body all around
Sickness broke his body and teased his soul
Loneliness, his captor, grew into a giant.
Vicki rested in his sinkhole —his head hung low.
Bullied, teased and laughed at, distance didn’t help;
He fled but couldn’t get away —from himself
He was too close to the blaring… neon-lighted-problems in his head
They were written in Bold CAPITAL letters
Strobe-lighted with silent thunderous blasts
Glued to him as demonic friends…
Yes, Vicki ran faraway… to his restful sinkhole
There the wind wafted sweet, soulful relief
Where Vicki hid, ate, drank, ran, and paced.
The current he jumped into hurtled Vicki against a boulder;
Suddenly shaken, his once promising future was merely a fable;
Nothing more than a significant dead end.
And the comfort zone he chose, was a sinking hole;
Everyone climbs their Everest, some fall. Stepping into another life is risky. Entering into their disarrayed life is not only hard, it borders on impossible. You risk your joy and in return gain grief and sadness. Every child we oversee has frightening stories until someone reaches into their hole, and by some miracle, says the needed, shows the love, and pulls them out. That’s God’s plan. Family enters in.
A man once woke up in the middle of the night, and sensed a tangible evil in his room. He lifted his head and saw the devil. He said, “Oh, it’s only you,” then dropped off to sleep again. That’s the victory; owning your story, not running from it.
Trauma and tragedy, hopelessness and grief, can be defeated devils. You can’t erase history; your story is who you are. Turn the past into the stronghold it can be in life, don’t allow it to take the place of terror that breaks you. Turn bad experiences into defeated devils. Face your past, make room for it, own it and walk with your head held high. The door is open. Freedom is on the other side. Father is waiting.
Vicki imagined a family who cares. And he had one. He just didn’t recognize who his family was. The world is full of Vickie’s.
Vicki, if you read this, come home, you are loved. You are in our family.