Audrey Auernheimer is a retired hairdresser. She taught Family to Family education classes in Kansas with her husband, Tony, for several years before retiring to Oklahoma in 2011. Audrey has 3 children with M.I diagnosis. Two are deceased due to suicide.


My beloved son,

Wow!  What a journey it has been for the past 31 plus years!

  I remember clearly the day you were born. You took your time making an entry, and seemed a bit reluctant to leave your safe, warm environment.   After the third visit to the hospital with “false” labor, I was again told to go home, and wait awhile longer. I groaned. After a month suffering from gestational diabetes and chronic indigestion, I was feeling every minute of my 40 years. Also, I was growing impatient, waiting to meet that tiny infant who had tumbled around happily inside me for the past few months!

After being told to go home and wait, I announced to any medical professional within hearing that I was not leaving that hospital without my baby in my arms!! Much to my relief, they agreed to keep me overnight.   A nurse brought medication to help me sleep, and I dozed for a short time, only to be awakened by hard cramping and back pain.  It was time.  Finally!

Two and a half hours later, you made your way into the world with a loud cry of triumph! As I held you in my arms for the first time, I examined your toes, tiny fingers and watched you smile at me.  You were such a beautiful, perfect baby boy!  My feelings of love for you were almost overwhelming, sweeping me away to a height of joy only a mother can feel toward her newborn. I remember watching your Dad’s face light up as he gazed at you with such wondrous joy on his face.  After leaving the hospital he went to a friend’s house and talked for hours about your miraculous birth. He talked about the overflowing love he felt when he first saw you, and how humbling it was to realize God had answered his prayer for a son. He talked about his feelings of inadequacy at the thought of parenting this tiny child that was now his responsibility.  Our friend and her husband described it as “catching the bubble” of joy.

Oh, my dear son!  Never question your beginnings.  I cannot imagine any child entering this world who was more loved, wanted and cherished by his parent’s than you were and are.

The first time your half- sister Candace met you at 8 years old, she squealed with delight.  The two of you shared a close sibling bond from the beginning. That bond was strengthened later in life when she came to live with us and the two of you attended the same Christian school, you in Kindergarten, she in middle school.  Candace had lots of friends, and you quickly became known as “Candace’s little brother”, a title you happily accepted.  At elementary school age, you loved helping me in the kitchen and I remember how you loved spicy foods. You sprinkled red pepper on almost everything!  Those are happy memories!

 A couple of weeks ago, your Dad and I made the 5 hour trip to visit you in another state. A couple of months earlier you had left our warm, comfortable home to live in a storage shed.  A sturdy, but rather squalid storage shed in a large city, with no utilities and no plumbing. I don’t understand.  Winter is on its way. How will you keep out the cold?

Our lives have changed so drastically within the past 16 years.  What happened to change your life so drastically?  How did we, as a caring, stable family, get to this place?

 Shortly after your medical diagnosis of Psychosis NOS at age 14, a series of multiple hospitalizations began, followed by repeated drug treatments, juvenile detention lock up, therapy and frustratingly little effective treatment for your illness.  Your Dad and I didn’t always understand how much of your behavior was related to illness symptoms.  I apologize for our anger during this difficult time.

When you were 17, we received the news that your sister had taken her life. The news hit you hard! Your beautiful sister, confidant and best friend was gone, and you wrongly blamed yourself. We watched your life quickly spin out of control.  A year or so later, addiction and illness related criminal charges led to you serving 6 years in prison.  As a result of a presentencing evaluation, your diagnosis was changed to Schizoaffective Disorder/Bipolar type.

We are proud of you achieving your GED while incarcerated. Upon release from prison you remained drug free, took the initiative to get a full time job and aced several college classes.  Your courage, amazing resourcefulness and determination to survive while battling demons in your head, is nothing short of awe inspiring!  Some traits I admire in you are your intelligence, quick wit, heart of compassion and generosity. These have never changed.

 I am proud of you, son!

 I am Mom. My love has never wavered from that overwhelming joy I felt the first time I saw your face. The love your Dad has for you now is the same as it was then. That will not change. You are precious to us. We will never give up on you, son. With faith, you will have everything necessary to recover from your illness and succeed in life.

 As an adult, where and how you live your life is your choice.  Our prayer is that we can establish some sort of communication with you. These long trips become difficult, as we age.

Life is teaching me to let go, let God.  It brings peace knowing that no matter how far away you are from me, you can never move too far away from your God, Protector, Provider and Healer.  God loves you even more than I am capable of.

We will always be here for you.   Meanwhile, we are entrusting you to our merciful Father’s care.

Love forever and always, Mom