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A New Way

October 17, 2013

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

20131016-223609.jpg Mary, on her first birthday

Four years. My sweet little baby girl is four years old. It seems unreal. These have been the four years that more than any other time have defined my own life, challenging me, shaping me and teaching me more than I could have ever imagined possible.

Just two months before Mary was born we received our first of three autism diagnoses. By the time she turned two, all three of our children had been officially diagnosed. It has been a whirlwind, yes. But an amazing and exhilarating time of learning and discovering so much, not just about our children or even ourselves, but a time of learning a new way of life. A new way of living out dreams.

I have struggled with the medical end of things. The unknowns, the fears. But to live life through that sharply focused lens has brought everything into a fresh perspective. It has helped me to understand what is really important. And having the helping, supportive hand of the autism community along with so many wonderfully supportive, friends, teachers and therapists has meant more to me than I could have ever imagined it would.

But you know all that already.

As much as this community has lifted me, my children have been teaching me. They have been showing me. This. This new way of being. A new way of seeing.

She looks at the trees, and I would swear to you, that she does not see a single tree, but rather hundreds of individual dancing leaves. She sees the individual parts. She sees the individuals, each playing their part in the dance, in the enormous chorus of this wind in the trees. And more, she sees the individual rays of sunlight making their way through each individual dancing, laughing leaf, gracing the forest floor with their heavenly light. She looks at it all with such wonder. And she makes you stop. She makes you see it too. And it is beautiful. And that brief moment that you take to sit with her and watch, and see, really see…. It changes your whole world.


This. This is what has been life altering.

And this is the gift of autism. For all the hard stuff (and, yes there’s a fair bit) I don’t think I could trade it, if it meant giving up these gifts. Because without it, would she see the world the way she does? Would she lead us to see the world, just a little bit, the way she does?


And without it, would my son be able to focus so clearly on that one thing that he loves? Would he be able to be so in tune with his other autistic friends in a way that, frankly, makes me jealous of the bond they share?

And without it, would Joyce, my little middle, be able to be so free, so unabashedly excited, bubbly, spirited and happy? Would she be able to express her joy in the flappiness that has become her trademark? She is so free and uninhibited. When she is happy, she exudes a purity of joy that I have never witnessed anywhere else.

These are the gifts, my friends. And for all the hardships, all the worry, all the fear, they are worth more than any mountain of gold. These lessons, this dedication, this beauty, this joy… Yes. This is what we were put here for. And I am forever grateful for all of it.

“It turned out all she could see was the fountain; she’d taken it in and was ready to move on to the next sight. I hadn’t finished looking at the fountain yet because, to my vision, the fountain was a collection of dancing interlocking patterns that each needed attention. Though it took me much longer to take in that fountain, I realized that the richness I experienced was so much deeper than most people ever see. I began showing her the textures in the water, the way you could see the individual water drops held in mid air sparkling in the light, the unusual colors blended in the pool .. endless vignettes that to me were huge and visceral and to her were just a fountain.” – Michael Moon, autistic musician, artist, and author

Four years on this journey. Four beautiful, exhilarating years of learning to slow down. To see the textures in the water. To see the parts of the whole. And wherever this path may lead us next, I will always be grateful for this. For this gift that autism has given us.

Happy Birthday sweet girl.

20131016-223816.jpg Mary on her fourth birthday.

Just another perfect day
Bring it on ’cause I’m on my way
I’ve got a laugh to share I’ve got a dream to chase
Always something new to learn
Can’t wait to take my turn
I’m gonna turn it up ’cause it’s another perfect, perfect day
~from the Fresh Beat Band – Mary’s favorite song to listen to on the way to school.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Life&Ink permalink
    October 17, 2013 4:45 pm

    Erin, I love your attitude and how you not only see, but soak in the rich lessons and delights of motherhood. Happy Birthday, Mary!!! 🙂

    • October 17, 2013 8:51 pm

      Thanks Charlotte. That means so much. xoxo

  2. therocchronicles permalink
    October 19, 2013 7:41 pm

    Happy Birthday Mary!

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