I Am Grateful My Son Has a Safe Space to Land

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by Joe MacDonald |

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I watch my son put pencil to paper and cannot help noticing the change in his face. The tension from just a few minutes ago gives way to peace. The minute he draws the first line on the page, he’s transported into a world that offers him rest and spiritual renewal. His fingers become one with the masterpiece that moves from his mind to the blank canvas.

Caeleb, 16, finds his haven in the art of drawing. My boy never leaves the house without a sketchpad in his hand. There is something special about the process of creating that allows my son to find respite from the worries of the world. And to think it all started with a blank piece of paper and a regular pencil.

While I appreciate Caeleb’s artistic talent, I also respect that he keeps some aspects of his art private from all other eyes, including mine. He reserves the space for only himself, treating it as holy ground. Occasionally, he lets me see his work, but I must receive a personal invitation from him.

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I marvel at his ability to create ex nihilo (out of nothing). What starts as an empty page comes alive with a pencil stroke. An idea in his mind’s eye appears before the artist’s loving hand. In his sacred space, Caeleb creates a world that appeals to his senses. Here we see physical manifestations of love, struggle, and frustration.

When my boy draws, all his emotions appear on the paper, giving me a glimpse into how he feels about the stress he carries. Sometimes he expresses frustration about hemophilia and its complications. I never knew what he experienced during an internal bleeding episode until he showed me a picture he drew that depicted how he felt.

In the drawing, a knee is filled with needles piercing the skin. Arrows fly through the air, targeting the knee to inflict as much damage as possible. Blood spills out into the knee, creating a lake of blood within the joint. This helped me understand the ongoing pain Caeleb feels.

I took a minute and looked at the picture with a profound sense of sorrow and joy. I felt sad that Caeleb experienced so much pain. Like any other dad, I wished I could take the most horrible parts away from him. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do but sit beside my son and continue to love him.

In the bleeding disorders community, we know what it’s like to struggle with nasty breakthrough bleeds. We see our children scream in agony; my son’s sketch becomes too real. The needles continue to pierce our loved one’s skin, and the pain continues to increase until it proves unbearable.

Yet as quickly as I felt sorrow upon seeing Caeleb’s drawing, I also experienced joy. Finally, there’s a place where he can express himself without judgment. His drawing is his story, complete with his emotional journey through the world of hemophilia. Within his artwork, he shares his unique experience. I feel grateful because I know he has a place to land that is his creation.

All of us need a safe place to land as we manage the everyday stressors of life, plus a bleeding disorder. We need to find a place to unwind and regroup so that we may continue to offer hope when our loved ones struggle with complications resulting from hemophilia.

I am grateful that Caeleb discovered his voice through art and hope it continues to provide him with a safe space to express himself in both difficult and joyful times. I pray that he may continue to put pencil to paper to express himself through the ups and downs of life.

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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