I have one of those.
We were talking late the other night. We had both had a really rough few days. Break-ups, meltdowns, problems at work, crazy schedules… you name it and the world was crashing it down upon us.
As she turned to leave, she looked at me and said, “You have such a hard life.”
I didn’t think about it for a minute. I didn’t hesitate for a second with my answer.
“No, I don’t.”
“But you have a disabled child….” she replied.
“I don’t have it any different than anybody else,” was my answer.
And then she left.
And I got to wondering….
Looking back, life was difficult. I remember the epic meltdowns that lasted as long as 3 hours. I remember the bruises and the scrapes on both of us as I tried to keep Sean from hurting himself as he banged various body parts on the walls or floors.
I remember the exhaustion - not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.
I remember those days of absolute helplessness as you dealt with school districts or teachers or parents that simply didn’t understand.
They would call Sean a monster.
They would say that he was being disruptive to the other kids’ learning. They would say he didn’t deserve to be in the classroom.
And I could only say in return, “We’re trying.”
I was crippled with fear, frustration, and worry back in those days. I’d sit for hours at the kitchen table and just cry.
I didn’t know how to help my son. I was struggling to find the right doctors, the right medication, the right therapists.
I often thought that he’d be better off without me.
But then one day led to another and then to another.
And you slowly start to figure things out.
Sure, Ashley cried and screamed the other day about having to go to therapy after school for Sean.
And yes, the other day we futilely attempted to get Sean to say “yes” instead of “yea” and “this” instead of “dis.”
And the crack in the girls’ closet door from when Sean inadvertently kicked it during a meltdown seven years ago will remain for at least seven more…
But I’m also thankful… grateful….
I am grateful for those “go nowhere” days that we have to put into our busy schedule because Sean needs them.
They give us a chance to slow down and see what is really necessary in life.
I am grateful for the re-heated Kentucky Fried Chicken that we have on Thanksgiving because Sean somehow has it in his head that The Colonel attended that first feast along with the pilgrims and the Indians.
It has taught us that whom you celebrate with is more important than how you celebrate or what you serve.
I am grateful for the “team” that follows Sean’s every movement in school. I would rather have him over-watched than simply be a number or name on an attendance list.
I am grateful for all the hours I have spent in waiting rooms of doctors and therapists. I have met some amazing people and heard stories of tremendous strength in spirit.
I am grateful for the kindness of strangers who do understand…
And, in a way, I am grateful for autism. It has taught me that the best joys in life are simple, sporadic, and worth cherishing.
Finally, I am grateful for my friend who led me down this journey.
No, my life’s not difficult. Not anymore than anyone else’s.
In fact, it’s a blessing.