When there are brick walls that circle you, you really can’t see beyond the very thing that your eyes meet no matter where you move. You’re consumed with daily hurdles, and although there are peeps of sunshine through the cracks, you tend to always face challenges. You can’t see past the norm. Even vacations are something heard of, but seemingly not attainable. Sleep is deprived, and any shut eye that is obtained is never enough. You’re literally surviving off of limited stamina. And you chuckle at times when people say to take time out for you. What exactly is that? Time would suggest that there are indeed extra hours in a day to check off your list of tasks and begin tackling a new list called “wants.” For parents of children with special needs, “me” is unfathomable and appears unfair when you compare your needs versus your child’s. Your needs are on the back burner, and based on the day to day, that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. We’re faced with something that requires a journey before a destination is met. For most, there aren’t any short cuts. There aren’t any cheetah sprints that will get you where you desire early. Besides, there’s a pace that only your child takes and you’re forced to conform, realizing that the steps they take, no matter the tempo, are progress. But sometimes the steps, as well as, the up and down slopes mixed with being clueless on the end zone causes frustration and a bottomless pit to hold every emotion hostage. And it doesn’t help that apparently hope is playing hide and seek, where long after you have finished counting, hope is still no where to be found. So, my mind often wonders, for a moment, what it would be like to be thrust into a scenery of still waters. To be captured in the splendor of life stopping midstream…just long enough for me to exhale and listen to the waves whisper and hum melodies of tranquility. I haven’t been to the beach in awhile. The most memorable time was when my oldest was not quite a year old. (He’ll be 17 this year, so that should put this in perspective.) Although, it’s been years, the impact of my visit there cuddles my memory nonetheless and the recall brings moments of calm when minutes feel like hours and hours feel like weeks. This place of solitude arrests both anxieties and despair, while sweeping in breathtaking peace and silencing thunderstorms. I remember walking a shore with my bundle of joy. My knees became weak, overtaken by the spectacular view upon our arrival. In an instant, I felt I could remain for I was absorbed in the vastness of magnificence before me. The breeze caressed me. The intonation of waves crashing, with a hint of seagulls adding a tune or two, engulfed me. And the smell of salt battling the fresh air for precedence moved me. The sunset dropped what favored a rainbow, minus certain colors, but I didn’t mind. The illustration on this canvas caused every sense to be awakened, so nothing would deter my attention elsewhere. Even the sand welcomed my feet to begin a story, as I had noticed the ones before me had done. There were no details into their lives needed. Just an impression left on shore that someone had arrived with needs and desires of their own. At the time, I didn’t have much of a story to leave. I had just gotten married a year prior. My oldest was a baby and his tumultuous road of coughing, wheezing and breathing machines hadn’t begun…and my second son wasn’t born as of yet, so autism hadn’t made its debut in our humble abode. NOW, there are stories – plural, not just one story, that life has penned. If I returned to that place of solitude, the size of my footprint would be the same but the depth of the imprint would certainly differ than before…because you see, experience is in every step. Every pain, every joy, every tear, every laughter, every stumble, every mountain climbed and every lesson learned — all exist in each step you make. And oh how I wish to return to such a place, not just to celebrate how far we’ve come, but to also seize the atmosphere of serenity, for times when life drives night to stay for longer periods of time, without the stars being present to bring some kind of light. I would love to breathe in the air of no worries, even it’s brief. I would love to feel the cool water of placidity wash away fear, even if that’s only for a second. But I’ve not been allotted time to go back. So, I’m learning to take snapshots of the surprising, the beautiful and the quite amazing moments when they come. For me, it’s times like when my son started talking at the age of 4….was potty trained at 6….tied his shoes at 8….took his first shower at 12….and finally rode his horse for the first time by himself at 13. These pictures hold time frozen for me. Consequently, at any point that I fall and struggle to stand from the overwhelming everyday, I can just pull from my heart one of these photos and gain peace, comfort and strength. Many parents of children with special needs don’t have the luxury to fly away for hope and be revitalized. Sometimes our reality is all we have, and we have to learn to step away, pull out our mental pics of a “first,” of a try with much determination, and of what we would consider a gold medal win….and we remember why we’re fighting, who we’re fighting for. Then we can release everything that our soul has bottled up and finally breathe. We can stand up and we can walk….and we keep walking, waiting for another snapshot to come along.
Thanks for listening,