As I get ready to pop some popcorn and watch the Tony Awards tonight, I decided to listen to Hamilton again. Yes, I know–I’ll hear plenty Hamilton during the three hours of the Tony Awards with the show up for a record 16 awards. I was just in a Hamilton mood. And, for those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you know that several songs in Hamilton cause an emotional response. Micah’s favorite musical… Parallels between Alexander Hamilton and his son Philip and myself and Micah… Just thinking about him sitting in the loft, playing on the Xbox, listening to Lin-Manuel Miranda telling us about refusing to miss his shot…
Memories made me think of the finale of the show, Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story, and how all those memories, all the tales told–and that will be told–about Micah, about me, about all of us, are not controlled by us, but by those that survive us. How many memories of Micah am I filtering out right now? How well am I telling his story? Micah was not perfect–no child, no person is–but how much of the other side of Micah do I need to talk about in order for people to understand the incredible young man that was my son?
For people to understand–to take meaning from our horrible tragedy–I think they need to know that for all the amazing things Micah was, and was capable of being–the million things he had to do–he suffered from mental illness. As much as we helped him, as much as his hockey and his vocal music helped to regulate his emotions and mental illness, it was not enough. When I tell Micah’s story, I want to make sure people can get the idea, the message, that mental illness is very serious and all too often overlooked in society. Kids that are mentally ill are treated as oddities, pointed out, pointed at, and thought of as just “sick” or kids to keep your distance from. The stigma is so strong. Micah lost friends–or lost the opportunity to maintain friends–due to his illness. Micah’s grades in school suffered. Micah’s confidence suffered. Micah would come off the ice after a fantastic performance in net–the performances like friends have talked about where former pros watching commented on Micah’s talent and very high ceiling–and would tell me that he thought he played horribly, that he should have stopped more shots, that he just wasn’t that good. When Micah once heard a classmate spreading a rumor that Micah only made a team because *I* talked a coach into taking him, rather than brush it off, he took it to heart. He told me about it, nearly in tears, asking if it was true. We talk so much about the effect of politics in youth sports, imagine the difficulty of telling a child like Micah that he didn’t make a team, not because he wasn’t a strong goalie, but because there were other factors in play. It didn’t escape Micah that, in roller hockey, he got to play with the top skaters in Arizona, but that he could never play with them on ice.
It’s all part of Micah’s story. I hope that someday soon, I will write something–maybe a novel–where I tell Micah’s story, and tell it well.