Fourteen years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful soul. We had no idea then the journey we were about to embark. The diagnosis. The confusion. The anger. The guilt of “what have I done.” The mourning of what we were told tomorrow would look like. The perplexed on how to move forward. The fight. The knock down. The “get back up” again. I can close my eyes and rewind life to when reality did an about-face. I can feel the same intensity of fear, breathing in the night air of uncertainty, and having a sense that I’m moments away from being overpowered by the exact emotions that initially captured my being. But I open my eyes as quickly as I had closed them. I see my son. Where Callie is now is not where he was, but in that lies the comfort – in the now. Yes, sleepless nights still exists….and so does routines, meltdowns, echolalia and the seemingly ongoing special educational battle for his rights. And currently puberty has introduced my exhaustion to new levels. He’s continuing to travel uphill and every year brings new challenges. However, progression and the possibility of more seem promising when I look back over my shoulder and see how far my child has climbed. It has not been all bad. Hope broke barriers. We went from being handed a diagnosis and a prognosis with no direction, no expectation and no room to exhale at all to actually seeing growth and reaching heights that were presented unattainable. Walking from nonverbal to verbal (age 4). From #1 and #2 on walls, carpet and clothes to finally inside the toilet (age 6). From velcro to tying shoes (age 8). From tearing books to mere shreds to stacking them (age 10). From friendless to compadres (age 11). From baths to showers (age 12)….and the list goes on.
So, no fourteen years ago, no one could have prepared me for the roller coaster of a ride. No one could have painted a portrait of the present based on the before. But here we are…another year…hand in hand on this voyage to a future unknown. I am engulfed with gratefulness for where my son has arrived up to this point, and I am beyond excited about seeing this eagle (my Callie) soar to new altitudes…no matter how long it takes…no matter the boisterous winds along the way. Besides, persistence and heart have pushed us thus far and I do look for hope to remain in the driver’s seat.
To my son, “Happy Birthday!” A few weeks ago, we celebrated the day you were born. Today, I celebrate who you are…the magnificent you…the brilliant you…the gifted you…the determined you. You define the word champion and I am immensely proud of you. Thank you for showing me and the world that autism does not have the final say. You, my son, are beyond more… Loving you always, Mom
Thanks for listening,