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A Columnist Says Goodbye

A dad puts his writing on hold to make things right at home.

For the past eleven months, I have been writing about the life of raising a child with autism. 

Today’s column will be my last.

It has been a pleasure coming to you each week. Writing is cathartic for me, especially when it is about a topic that means as much to me as my son does.  That you came here to read my stories means the world to me. Your feedback has helped carried me through some difficult times, and I thank you very much.

Before I sign off, I want to tie up a couple of loose ends. 

My son has been doing pretty well of late. He has really been happy. His anger has diminished. He seems more calm and focused. He is doing better in school, achieving Student of the Week honors this past week for the first time this calendar year.

We are hoping that we have finally found the right combination with the latest medication he has been on, along with a new biomedical treatment we recently started. I always try to encourage my son to persist, to never give up; I am glad that we did not give up on medication . 

For all of you who , I am pleased to tell you that my son is now able to tie his shoes all by himself.  Coincidentally, the first time he did it was on Pi Day, which made it extra special at our house. 

I am a bit chagrined, however, that I wasn’t the one who finally got him to do it. My wife once again incorporated the services of Kai’s swim instructor extraordinaire, James. Yes, the same person w accomplished another "impossible" feat for us.  I don’t know where we would be without James, and really, without all of the professionals who work with our son at school and in therapy.

So things with Kai are pretty good right now.

And I am really happy about that.

But not all is well in our world.

Mea culpa

I screwed up.

I was trying to have it all – flexible hours by doing freelance work from home and plenty of time to spend with my son. I was making it all work by boosting my income by aggressively trading the stock market.

Having more time to spend with my family was wonderful.  But I suffered major losses while trading,  and have put at risk the best thing that ever happened to me – my family. 

Now I need to rectify the situation. 

First, I have to find a full-time job.

It won’t be easy. It is still a tough economy. I am not a young man any more. I think many employers prefer younger workers to older ones.  And after working jobs in a number of different fields, my resume is hard for prospective employers to classify. I've held responsibilities in everything from marketing research to IT to strategy, so I am well-rounded and versatile. (Hopefully, that is not just another way of saying unemployable.)

As tough as it may be to find a job and repair my finances, it will be even more challenging to mend the damage I have done to the relationship with my wife.

Can families survive when one partner loses faith and trust in the other? Does being a dedicated dad even partially make up for such a major screw-up? 

Perhaps this is the one big test that seemingly every relationship faces. And like the old saying goes, what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger. 

But right now, in this time of adversity, it feels like a nearly impossible task. This time, I can’t count on James to help me. I know that this is all on me.

My family needs me. My son needs me. 

More than that, I need them. I cannot imagine not being there for Kai every day.

And that is why I am stepping away from my column. I need to take the time to make things right. 

Farewell for now. Thank you for reading. I hope to connect with all of you again one day.

Editor's note: We're tremendously sad to say goodbye to Yuji's columns, and are on the lookout for a new voice willing to write about the challenges of raising a child with special needs. If you're interested in continuing the conversation Yuji's writing has started, email jacob@patch.com. Thanks for reading.

Yuji Fukunaga April 11, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I appreciate that, James. Thank you.
Violet Flemenbaum April 11, 2012 at 05:10 AM
As the fellow parent and blogger with a child on the spectrum, I will miss your funny, insightful writings. I wish you the best and commend you on your courage to make things right at home with your son and wife. I hope that once the dust settles at home that you will return to writing your column for Patch.
Yuji Fukunaga April 11, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Violet, I truly enjoyed writing for Patch, and hope to write again someday. Thank you for the well wishes.
forest barbieri April 11, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Yuji: Your articles and ability to convey so much feeling, compassion and sharing of experiences has been truly one of the greatest joys of me being active on Patch. As I have said before, I believe you have a great talent and believe me, we all SCREW-UP! I have found that out of these types of experiences we grow stronger and that we end up in positive places that we did not know existed beforehand! While not your ultimate goal, you may want to think about writing for profit. IE, a book or even as a PAID columnist. Even starting a Web Page or blog that can produce some income. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family! Your columns will be missed but as you have seen your son acomplish seemingly impossible tasks, so shall you! Forest
Yuji Fukunaga April 12, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Forest, I am touched by all of the generous comments that I have received. It is nice to know that I connected with so many of you through my writing. I really enjoy writing, and to be able to make a living off of it would actually be the ultimate. :) Thanks for your good thoughts and encouragement! Yuji

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