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A couple of weeks ago we asked our readers to submit personal or unique occurrences they had experienced. We received this story from, Tracey Kenard. In this inspiring story Tracey explains how she left a dead end relationship, raised her son and learned to appreciate the beauty in every day.

Nearly 25 years ago, I was a young bride with a young husband. We had a baby immediately but I already had signs that the marriage was not going to work. We were too young and too immature. So, after I had the baby, my ex husband got heavy into drugs. Clearly, he always was but I guess I was blinded by his light. So as things went from bad to worse I tried to support us and our new baby, pay the bills, etc.

Things finally got to be enough for me when the ex had taken to not coming home. And when he did, he would usually take something and go right back out. He was taking our wedding gifts & selling them for crack. The final straw came about a week later when I was watching TV, having not seen him for 2 days, he walked in, unplugged the TV & walked out with it! Yes, while I was watching it, never once asking or checking on the baby.

Right then, I got up, packed all of my newborn son’s clothes, took them to a friend’s house and told her as I bring things to her, keep them in the trunk of her car. We did this for about 2 more days, then I was ready to make my exit. On the day I was leaving my husband, he came home!! Of all days. He thought I was leaving for work, as usual, and  asked if he could cook breakfast, etc. I told him no thanks. He offered to ‘watch’ the baby as opposed to the sitter, yet I said no thanks. I bundled up the baby, looked at the ex and said ‘see ya later.’ He said ‘see you after work.’

That was 24 years ago, and the last time I ever saw him. I walked out, my girlfriend picked me up in front of our apt. building w/my son’s clothes; took me to my job where I told my boss (to whom I had grown very close) that I needed to quit & get my final paycheck. I went next door to the travel agency, bought a one-way ticket to Ohio, got to the airport, and was standing in my parents’ kitchen four hours later, 3000 miles away from Los Angeles.

I left with the clothes I had on my back. I left all weddings gifts (no time or space to be materialistic), but most importantly – I left my husband because I was not going to raise my son in that environment. I was in Ohio one week and found a job at the local hospital entering emergency room records, and climbed up & up from there. God truly blessed and watched out over me and my boy. By the time my son was 2, I had bought a car; by the time he was 4, I bought our first house. I never looked back to L.A. once. I had/have family there, so I’ve been back plenty to visit, but I never want to live there again. That experience gave me a horrible taste in my mouth for L.A., and all I went through there.

Did I ever speak with the ex again, you wonder? (LOL!) Well, a year later after I “got kidnapped” (which is what he told my parents when he didn’t know where I was), my sister (who still lived in L.A.) asked me to call him and put his mind at ease so he would quit bugging her about what happened and where I was. So I called him. It felt soooo strange talking to him – my hands were shaking even over the distance.

I told him our son was fine, healthy, big, & handsome, yet had been diagnosed as autistic; he was born with “Fragile X disease” (missing chromosome in women) which made him mentally disabled. This all went over the ex’s head (which it would because I knew nothing of it until the doctors explained it to me); HOWEVER, ex asked, “What are you going to do with him?” What??? Do with him? At that moment, I had another “aha” moment that I was so glad I left when I did. Could you imagine me trying to hold it all down & raise an autistic child with a guy with drug problems?

I don’t remember anything more that was said over the phone. I just remember after we spoke of our son, I hung up. I think he was still talking.

Today, my son is an oh-so-handsome, 6 foot, 24 year old young man. He’s beautiful (as my ex was – they’re like twins), he graduated from ‘regular’ high school & marched across the stage with his class and a huge smile on his face, received his diploma and danced a jig in front of everyone, which set the place on fire with laughs. Him in his cap & gown… after all we had struggled through to get to that very moment. He had been in early school intervention for disabled learning since he was three years old – then finally at the age of 20 – he was DONE!

It also meant so much to have my mom there to see him graduate (my real father & step dad had died some years earlier) because she was there from day one. It’s her house (where I grew up) where I found comfort & safety to start my life over as a young mother. It was mom who recommended we take Son to the doctor because he wasn’t progressing as a ‘normal’ baby would.  So it was very important that we were blessed to have “Gran” watch her boo walk that stage. Tears everywhere! LOL!

Also, today, my Son is a member of the Special Olympic family. We have formed such close bonds with the other families. What a grounding experience. They’re like our extended family always. The athletes have basically grown up together! My Son is  amazingly athletic & has been playing baseball, basketball and also running track for the last few years so he’s a triple sportsman. He is a super fast runner so he has tons of gold & silver medals from track meets over the years. We travel all over the place with sporting events.

He also works full time at the WorkShops, earns his own money and helps me pay bills. It’s an amazing journey being the mother of such a person and trying my best to teach him to be self-sufficient so he can be a functioning adult in this society when I’m no longer around one day.  In the meantime, I’m so blessed that God chose and trusted me to raise this special child. He teaches me each day to see nothing but the bright side, everyday. Every morning before he gets on the bus to go off to work, we hug and he says, ‘mom – is this a beautiful day, or what?’ no matter what the weather.

And I always smile, hug him tight & say, ‘it certainly is!!’

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