By Dawn M. Sanders

I’m in two minds about whether or not I believe in angels. On one hand, they could be considered some Christian ideal of escorting the lucky up to the gates of heaven – on the other, they might be the deities who fly throughout the outer realms of the cosmos or maybe there’s really no such thing at all…

Despite my son’s teenaged angst, frustration with communication barriers and how the frustration comes out – underneath it all he’s my angel – the one who came and saved me, when I was begging for beer money in London’s Camden Town, when I had nothing and nowhere to go and when I was around a lot of people who were just out to get what they could from wherever.

An illustration of a pair of beautiful white spread wings.
Angel Wings

He came to me among the craziest chaos…

At birth he was so tiny, but strong and full of Sagittarian fire and calm contented earth energy.

He was my gift from the goddess and gods.

He had such a shaky start: the feeding trouble, the fact his eyes were opaque when he opened them – trying to see what was around him, the fact I had no money and no legal status – it was all pretty scary.

As a new mum with a severe visual impairment, I was sure the vulture authorities would try to take him from me, but they didn’t and we both weathered the storm in determined resilience.

As he grew, our journey together, especially in the early, happy days of Brighton, was fulfilling, hard and soft and one big learning curve, since I had the extra worries of: how to teach him about the world around him, how he would communicate, the diagnosis of his hearing loss, the hospital stays at Great Ormand Street; I don’t know where my strength came from.

There were several moves: to Wales, then the specialist/residential school, another move.

The separation from my little boy was pain-staking and I always felt I was abandoning him.

It was an emotional yet momentous occasion when he finally came back to start college closer to home.

Yet, the move to Sheffield has been fraught with harassment from the vultures – he has no idea of how much I’ve had to fight fight fight for him and he never will, because he’s always deserved anything I fought for.

When he came of age last year, crossing that all important threshold into adulthood, he took the natural turn that any lad his age would take.

His special needs aside, he became a man, having his first crush on a girl who is deaf at college – my heart went out to him.

The run up to him becoming desperate to spread his wings and fly, was gradual but obvious.

Then the destruction in the house got unbearable. He would often take out his anger, frustrations or just sensory urges out on tearing apart something, flooding the house, ripping up mattresses with his bare steel hands.

I knew what he wanted and what I needed, but he wouldn’t/couldn’t communicate it.

But then he finally did; when I asked/signed ‘why did you do it’ as he was determine to get the entire carpet up from his bedroom floor – I cried as I had spent hundreds of pounds on making the house nice when we moved in.

He finally signed: ‘move out’ ‘move out’.

So there it was and, I could take no more.

Predictably, there have been meetings upon meetings, the usual pushing pushing to be heard and advocating his perspective.

Fucking exhausting – all in the throes of my course assignments at uni etc.

I’ve been sad, edgy and angry all at once.

Yet, when it was settled upon, the flat that was coming up for grabs and even the date he could move in was set, I already started to miss my lad.

In the week before the move, tears were never far from the surface in wading through the everyday mud of life.

Now it’s been two days in his new home and he was ‘so excited’ to go.

He even reassured me when I was signing to him about the increase in responsibilities, hard work – he pointed to himself and then signed ‘fine.

He was telling me he would be fine.

When I signed to him: you’re still gonna be my baby?

A voice inside my head said: “always” as he signed it and turned to sleep on his cushions on the hard wooden bedroom floor.

In his secure new flat with all the support he needs and his new found freedom – well, as free as his life design will allow.

I was tearful yet with an underlying since of relief.

He turns 19 on Saturday and will have a low key but special celebration in his own new home.

My angel, with his baby smooth skin, thick chestnut brown hair, big brown eyes and brightly burning fiery spirit, has unfurled his wings and flown…

A mother loses so much of herself and identity when any child, especially the first, comes along.

They grow, you make sacrifice after sacrifice – always placing them first.

Then, before you know it, they fly…

He’s just on the other side of this big city, and, with his network of support and protection – where do ‘I go’ from here?

He’s hearing impaired/partially sighted. I never in a thousand years imagined life would ever be this complex surrounding my lad.

The compromising isn’t finished. Who will be there to speak on his behalf, make sure he is understood and heard?

I feel like I’m grieving, not only that he’s not here anymore, but because he has chosen to take root in a backward-thinking place, where single mums with visual impairments have no credibility or respect…

The worries haven’t ended, but my lad has started a new journey and so will I…


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