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Thank You

April 30, 2014

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“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

― Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

It’s been a rocky last few weeks in this house. It’s been stressful, filled with anxiety attacks, meltdowns, frustration… and gratitude.

I’ve heard it said that an autism parent’s job is not just to prepare his child for the world, but also to prepare the world for his child, meaning we have to make the world that our children enter into one that is a little more understanding. I’ve always agreed with that sentiment, but I think on some level I worried that it might be unattainable for my little crew.

I was wrong.

Thanks to you.

We’ve always been pretty open about our three children and their three different brands of autism. Even with their friends. Maybe especially with their friends.  Just before Easter I found out that Troy was being bullied at school. To be fair, the bully has his own personal issues, but still, I was livid. I’ll admit, when I found out, I had a few choice words I wanted to share with that child. As it turned out, I had to get in line– behind an entire class of fourth-graders.  It was all I could do to remain composed in front of Troy as he told me how all of his friends had surrounded him and confronted the bully head on.  Because they genuinely like him, for exactly who he is, just as he is. As far as Troy’s little band of brothers was concerned, nobody was going to be allowed to pick on him for his differences. It was just a little harder to stay angry when my heart was bursting with gratitude for these little boys.

And then on Easter, we made an attempt at a crowded holiday mass, knowing that it was unlikely our crew would make it through. And we didn’t. Not even close. But, we were surrounded by friends, so we smiled, got up and got out.  Sure, there were  probably a few dirty looks for our disturbance, but after having been on this wild ride for a few years, I’ve managed to train myself to pick out the gentle smiles of understanding in a crowd.  There was a time (in fact there are still many times) when we wouldn’t have even tried. Or when we did, I was never sure who was in more tears- them or me…. But now, with more people sharing in our journey, it’s… different.

And then, last week, I drove the kids up to Massachusetts to see some of the extended family. They are people we don’t see every day. They are people who don’t see the ups and downs, who maybe shouldn’t be so familiar with the little things. Many of them, are some of you. And that made it so much easier.

Easier because I didn’t have to explain over and over again why Mary still isn’t talking. Because you already knew.

Easier because I didn’t have to ask people to wait for Joyce’s response to a question, or to be patient and try to decipher her scripts as she processed the excitement around her. Because you already knew.

Easier because I didn’t have to apologize for Troy hiding in the bedroom with his computer, escaping the overwhelming number of people that descended on my parents’ home for a party celebrating my new nephew.  Because you already knew.

I didn’t have to have to have the same conversations over and over again, because you had taken the time to read it in snippets here. And it’s maybe a few minutes out of your day every once in a while, but it meant the world to us. Because it connected us- because it made our two worlds feel a little less far apart.

I had an old blogging friend over for a short visit last week before we left. We found ourselves talking about the separation between the blogosphere and the “real” world, how she has her blog as a very separate entity from her “real” world friendships. But she said something that struck me- something that in so many ways felt like a truth I already knew. She said that in many cases, it was easier to talk to these  virtual friends- the bloggers- than it might be to say something to someone you have to see in real life every day. It felt like truth because, at least for me, it is easier to pour it all out here, onto a page, than to say it out loud.

While my corner of the blogosphere is relatively small, it is sacred to me because you are here.  And I know you are all here for various reasons. Many of you are friends I have met through other blogs. Many of you I have found along this bumpy road of special needs parenting.  Many are family and friends, or friends of friends, following along via Facebook… Or perhaps you just stumbled upon this space while searching for something totally unrelated. But you stayed long enough to read this. And you stayed long enough to get a glimpse into our little world, and maybe it changed you.

And however you got here, maybe it helped you to understand our family just a little better.  My hope is it may have helped you see my children (or even your own) through a different lens. And maybe you slowed down and noticed the light through the trees in a different way, or the dancing water droplets in the fountain. Or maybe you offered a smile or a nod to another family struggling in line at the grocery store.

Or maybe, as I clumsily tried to explain why my kids were acting the way they were, you just smiled in a familiar way that said you already knew…

So thank you for being here.  For listening.  For following. For accepting. For being a family to us- whether that be in the “real” world, or in the “virtual” one.  For changing a little corner of the world just by making it a safer place for all of our children.

 

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“You must remember, family is often born of blood, but it doesn’t depend on blood. Nor is it exclusive of friendship. Family members can be your best friends, you know. And best friends, whether or not they are related to you, can be your family.”

― Trenton Lee Stewart

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2014 2:18 am

    Right on!!

  2. Life&Ink permalink
    April 30, 2014 12:28 pm

    Wonderful. Again. 🙂

  3. May 1, 2014 9:10 pm

    I love that first quote! So true – as is the rest of your post!

  4. May 4, 2014 12:02 pm

    Love the first quote so much! I also totally relate to rest of your post. 🙂

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