The Only Answer That Matters
October 2, 1994 was the day I unknowingly enrolled in the most advanced and rigorous educational experience that exists on this planet. My major was selected by fate, for I never would have intentionally pursued a life degree in: Parenting A Disabled and Terminally ill Child.
It took 16 years of hard-core, full-load, accelerated course, 24 hour a day/7 days a week, hands-on, intense, internship training; there were no student loans, grants, or scholarships. I paid the price for my education with my heart, mind and soul. It was the most precious investment I will ever make.
My son, Jaidon, was born with a condition so rare there are only 4 documented cases in medical history, worldwide. There were no obvious issues of any kind until he was around 10 months old. A myriad of exams and lab experiments led to his diagnoses at 2 years old.
Psuedo Metachromatic Leukodystrophy with Mosaic Ringed Chromosome 22 was a tough introductory biology course. According to his prognosis, he would not live past his fourth birthday.
Living life with such a mysterious diagnoses meant, regardless of how much we researched, there would always be a mountain of questions that would remain unanswered.
Jaidon’s father, Joel, had been my high school sweetheart and we were truly two of a kind, (Jaidon’s condition could only have happened if both parents carried the genetic code, which is a 1 in 16 million possibility), but our relationship did not withstand the pressures of higher education. Our individual ways of dealing with grief contributed to our divorce when he was 5. We continued as study partners, however, as we navigated the many halls and classrooms of our lives.
For many years the academic demands were overwhelming. I took on too many credits, and served as curator, librarian, researcher, instructor, school nurse, faculty administrator, janitor and cheerleader. It was in the midst of this self-assigned chaos, that I came to the true understanding of my enrollment. Jaidon was 12 years old, and had by now, lost all of his speech and mobility. Sitting in the presence of my silent son, I noticed the entire universe dancing in his eyes. The vast awareness in his gaze captured me beyond what can be described in words, and I realized… he was The Professor, and I, a simple student.
Professor Jaidon was a wise, patient, inspiring, humorous, persistent and kind instructor. He taught subjects such as compassion, humility, courage, bravery, generosity, positivity and many other lessons including how to walk and speak for two. He made learning such a rewarding and joyful experience.
As Jaidon’s earthly body deteriorated, the poignancy of each lesson increased, leading me to deeper understandings of who I am and what my purpose for being here is. While the physical lessons grew more difficult, the answers became simpler and continued to narrow, chipping away at the confusion that initially accompanied this rigorous course.
On March 29, 2011 my Teacher, the humble and brave Professor Jaidon, handed out his biggest assignment. With his dad and I holding him in our arms, he took his very last breath… quietly asking us to deliver the only answer that ever mattered.
For my esteemed Professor, Master of Life:
Jaidon Alvarez Fetters October 2, 1994 – March 29, 2011