Today as I said goodbye to him and he climbed that step onto the bus I was torn between saying goodbye to my heart and saying hello to a bit of the world ahead me. I got into my car and turned up the radio and just let it go. I went to the grocery store, I went to the coffee shop and was privilaged to have a coffee with my good friend and owner of the place, I was able to get a pedicure, I was able to think.
Sound simple? well let me tell you. I had not set foot in a grocery store in three months. The smell of the area between the doors was so refreshing that I stopped, closed my eyes and just stood there or a moment while I took in a deep breath savoring the smell. As I ran to the back of the store I kept telling myself “just slow down, you are alone, there wont be any meltdowns today… just breathe and soak it all in” but continued running. As I drove down the road all windows down blasting my music at 9 am I still found myself looking in the rearview mirror to make sure nothing was being thrown out the windows and was reminded that Autism wasnt there this time. I smiled inside. Finally A break. I stuck my hand out the driver side window as I drove those country roads I know so well from my younger days. Today I got to live. I got to see everything aorund me and smell the summer. I got to listen to the trees. I got to let my guard down for a moment and when i got home my belongings werent scattered about on the back lawn under my bedroom window.
Its days like this that remind me of the person I used to be. I used to be fun. I used to be the one to hold down the party when it was starting to die down. I used to be the one to expore places that most people would never think to go. I once went camping for 8 hours and the end of a dead end road with one of my college classmates. Thats just who i was. I was the one to have to call a tow truck after getting my mustang stuck in the mud with friends. I was the one to throw beer cans off my roof in college to make friends. I used to be this free spirit. I used to do things that most people would call “immature” but let me tell you thats where all my life lessons used to be taught.
I learned about the beauty of living. I learned about relationships and what real friendships were made of. I learned about the stars and the beauty of deep conversations near a campfire. I learned about boys, I learned about life, i learned about God, I learned about beer and i learned about what it means to live. Life isnt supposed to be about all work and no play. Life isnt supposed to be about pain and no joy. Life is supposed to be about Loving as hard as you can and accepting people where they are. Anything less is a disservice to society.
People are moving in different directions. That is not a reason to write them off. we are all writing our owns stories and the cards we are dealt and the things we bring to the table are all different. When I was younger I used to think that people coming and going was the result of something I had done or something inside of me. It was just recently that i realized that everyone is just as lost as I am and life sometime takes us to places to show us things and then we are supposed to move on. To say goodbye to people is not a bad thing, sometimes it means that life is taking one or both of you to a different place. Life is always teaching you something the trick is to listen.
I always try take twenty minutes everyday to stop and think. I think its important to take a mental note of where you are that day. And if time allows I like to stop and jot down a few thoughts and notes to revisit when things are quiet. Today, as the barista called out “ICED MOCHA CARAMEL EXTRA SHOT!” a man standing at the counter also waiting for his coffee to be finished commented with a smile on his face, “that looks like a celebration drink” I stopped and smiled at him and said, “That’s exactly what this is!” we continued talking joyfully about all the children starting school and he being much my elder said, “I remember those days, I can remember how important that ‘me time’ was”! “What a great start to my day” I said to myself as I walked happily to my table where my Ipad and bluetooth keyboard sat.
Truth is that this was a celebratory drink. I had made it an entire summer. Granted it wasn’t always pretty. It wasn’t always graceful. Sometimes it was down right to the point of me thinking “I CANT HANDLE THIS ANY MORE CALL IN THE RESERVES!” but I did it. Not only did I do it, but I cam out at the end loving this boy more than when i entered into that marathon everyone calls summer break.
You see, that\’s the thing about caring for someone with Autism. It’s ironic really when you think about it, that the more you think you just cant take it anymore the more you find yourself loving them and the more strength you find inside of you that you didn’t know you existed. There was a track coach i had once that told me (because I was a distance runner the two mile and two mile relay were my best events) that “if you legs feel tired, remember that they are lying to you. there is more inside of you than what your legs are saying”. I never thought much about that statement as I begged him to be put on the one mile instead, but he never budged. But now, looking back, I’m glad he left me there. This is the same teacher that, my freshman year of high school, placed me with a special needs boy so I could help him in science class. I wish I could find him now and thank him for the lessons he taught me. Because those lessons however simple, proved to be invaluable in my life. (MR MORIN IF YOU ARE OUT THERE. THANK YOU!!)
Care giving My son with special needs has given me a life i could have never imagined. and while I often long to be on those country roads I used to frequent with my radio up and windows down I cant help but be thankful for this new road i travel in my life. They may be winding, there may be potholes, there may be “I give up moments” but in the end they always bring me back to the lesson that life teaches all of us in the end. The lesson of Love. It’s not about ending up on top. It’s about ending up holding onto something you never knew was meant for you. Its about adapting. It’s about growing and running the race set in front of you even if you wish you were running a different one. It’s about looking at the world and accepting that your road is harder because you were made for greater things. And that, my friends, is what life is all about.