October 2, 2022
I still keep Isaiah’s insurance IDs in my wallet and the business cards for a few of the specialists he saw over the years. I have the one from the first neurologist we took him to in search of answers when he was twelve months old, the one who diagnosed him with a behavioral disorder. She had no other words to explain his extreme and terrifying conduct, or his polar fluctuations, depending on who was in the room. The second neurologist, whose card I also keep, we saw a year later, as new symptoms emerged. This one misdiagnosed Isaiah autistic because that’s typically the first label slapped on a child exhibiting actions non-neurotypical. Not criticizing. I get it. It took a long time for me to fully understand his correct diagnosis myself.
I see these cards almost every time I rifle through the contents of my wallet to find that stray stamp, when I search the pockets for my rewards ID at the grocery store, or the cash misplaced in a hurry. They peek from random places. (Little hands in my home often dump the contents of my purse when I leave easy access, and on these occasions, I often shove everything back in, hurried.) It sucks the breath out of me when I come across one of these, and it’s usually while standing in the supermarket or some public atmosphere, where I have to mask my reaction. Most of the time, I barely let my fingers graze the paper, or allow my mind to return to those places.
There were so many hours spent driving to new doctors, months waiting to be seen, begging for earlier openings, life hinging on evaluations and expert opinions. But when I’m strong enough, I’ll pull out these small pieces of paper and let myself remember. I’ll let myself recall the offices, the faces of the physicians and the dozen or more times I placed my son on that crinkly white sheet to be examined, praying this time they would believe me. In these rooms, Isaiah fastened his best smile, donned his charming act, and the specialist who never encountered mental illness in a child so young looked at me and rolled their eyes, told me I was being dramatic. I was taking his behavior too seriously. He was, in fact, only a toddler.
Finally, there was the psychologist who correctly diagnosed him at three years old. I keep her card, too.
I still keep my son’s Medicaid IDs in my wallet. The one he had when he first came to us at two months old from Sunshine Health, and what we received many months after moving to Colorado, both in his old last name. I also have his final one, what took me over two years of struggle to obtain after his adoption. This one named him mine.
I used to have every insurance card here; the renewals spanning the timeline of his history. Little hands playing in the contents of my purse have misplaced a few. Every once in a while, I come across one that settled at the bottom of an old diaper bag, what I missed in a hurry.
Two and a half years after his death, I still keep these mementos of my son close. And even though they cut me when I see them, I can’t bring myself to take them out. All of them feel like pieces of Isaiah. All of them are parts of his story, one that ended far differently than I could have imagined and obviously never would have chosen. Still, I trust the God who carries all of it and wait on Him. In the meantime, I hold on to simple tokens such as these while I wait to hold my son again.