"Our Son Is Disabled and It's Tearing Us Apart"
"My memory of Luke's birth is blurred," said Brad, 41. "When a doctor tells you that, basically, your child will be a vegetable for the rest of his life, the words don't really sink in. I was on autopilot, dashing frantically between hospitals to check on my wife and son. I kept asking myself questions no one should have to ask -- like, how could God let this happen? I had this crazy idea that if I prayed hard enough Luke's condition would improve. That didn't happen and never will. Now I'm afraid our decision to keep him at home may cost us our marriage.
"Initially, Kim and I shared Luke's care equally. But now everything I do is wrong. If I clean Luke's feeding tube or change his linens, she hovers over my shoulder to make sure I don't screw up. If I go grocery shopping, I'll invariably forget something or buy the wrong brand of detergent. There's no pleasing her, and the tension in our house is unbearable. Kim is sarcastic and coarse in front of the children. When did she learn to talk like a longshoreman?
"Believe me, that's not the woman I fell in love with. Kim was beautiful, smart, and full of energy. I'd dated enough women to know I wasn't going to let this one get away, so I pursued her until she agreed to go out with me. We clicked immediately; we used to have these marathon talks where we told each other everything. I could open up to her in a way I'd never been able to with anyone else.
"I realize Kim's just as angry as I am, but she won't admit it, even to herself. Yes, she has more to do than seems humanly possible, but she doesn't need to volunteer at every church event. She should use the time to take an art class or get a massage. When I point this out, she blows up, and we're smack in the middle of another battle.
"And it makes me livid when she says stuff like 'Dad's passed out in the den.' I've fallen asleep -- I have not 'passed out'! So what if I drink a few beers? It takes the edge off if I'm watching Luke for five hours. She's turned the kids against me. Kyle doesn't even want to toss around a football with me anymore, which breaks my heart, and all three take Kim's side in every argument. Now, on top of everything else, I've lost interest in my profession. That's why I'm taking a leave of absence from my law firm, after killing myself to make partner three years ago.
"I know the divorce rate is sky-high among couples with handicapped children. I'm determined not to let that happen -- our kids have had enough tragedy. Maybe the time has come to make the choice we've all been avoiding: to place Luke in a home. That's the elephant in the room."