"He has Catatonic Schizophrenia! Mikey will be transported to Yankton tomorrow Heather. Is there anyway you can go and visit him?", my mom sobbed into the phone and sighed. "Ya, we'll make arrangements and be there this weekend mom." I hung up the phone and prayed that God would be with my mother and my brother. The miles between all of us were too many.
The last six weeks had been rough my mother as she watched her first born son's mental health deteriorate before her eyes. She was called by some people in Newcastle when they found Mikey out wandering around bare foot, talking to a picture of his younger brother and niece. Mom managed to get him into the truck and make the nearly two hour ride to the Rapid City Hospital, without Mikey jumping out like he had threatened. Mikey had been very paranoid over the last few months. To make matters worse he began having auditory and visual hallucinations and began carrying on conversations with dead family members.
Later that week, my husband and I loaded up the kids and drove the four hour drive to Yankton, South Dakota. The mental health hospital was tucked on the outside edge of town, hidden behind a grove of trees. The kids stared wide eyed at our escort as she fingered through her keys for the right one at each security point. Mikey was locked behind six different doors in the Aspen Ward. He was there with other patients who were lost in their own minds from one disease to another. I couldn't help feeling so crushed and wanting to leave after I laid eyes on my older brother. He stood there in the hall in stained sweat pants and an over sized blue tee-shirt. His glasses were smudged and his hair was a mess. He seemed so lost, so helpless. Not only did he have this mental illenss but he had brain damage due to DTP shots as a toddler. He may be 29, but he has the mind of an eight year old. To my relief he recognized me and hugged me. His eyes lit up as we handed him a neon green stuffed frog. He was surprised that I remembered one of his favorite childhood toys. I showed him the inscription on the leg of the frog with the verse Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Sadly he was unable to keep the frog due to state regulations and the nurse confiscated it as she led us to a private conference room. Before she could take it, Mikey tore off the inscripted tag and shoved it in his pocket. Our visit didn't last long due to the kids being noisy and full of energy. Mikey began to get very agitated. He kept whispering to me about missing belongings, and that someone was after his money. He didn't want my husband to hear for fear of Chris possibly going after his checkbook too. He also was scared that one of the nurses was trying to take "power of attorney" from him and yet he had no idea what that meant. As we ended our visit we asked Mikey if we could pray for him and all of us joined hands. It was hard to not run through the security doors and not look back at Mikey. I hated leaving him there all alone and helpless as I prayed silently for God to be with him and to be with me. It brought back far too many memories of lonliness and isolation that I felt so many years ago when I was in the hospital locked down due to my own battlefield in my mind. The words of 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 brought much comfort to the moment. "All of you surely know that you are God's temple and that his Spirit lives in you. Together you are God's holy temple." God resides in each of us and is able to bring comfort to those who call on His mighty name. In fact, one of the most precious names of God is Yahweh Shammah, meaning The Lord is Here. The lord is here with me, the Lord is there with my brother. I felt his peace as I let the words of his scripture comfort me. Two hours into the drive, my phone rang with the caller I.D. showing Yankton. It was Mikey and he sounded much more at peace. "You sound so much better Mike, did eating lunch help you?", I asked curious about the change in his tone of voice. "No, I got to read the bible.", he responded. As our conversation ended, I knew that Mike was in God's hands and that God was indeed with Mikey bringing peace and comfort to him and to me as well. Perhaps that's one of the most precious gifts He has given us, to dwell within us, and that we are able to call Him Yahweh Shammah!