Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wishing and Hoping

I had spent most of this week, organizing fall/winter clothes, cleaning closets and thinning out toys and books -- a nesting feeling that always hits me in mid-October -- when sunlight is fierce and quick and my tired knees ache with the promise of rain. While cleaning out a bookshelf, I came across a journal that I had kept for awhile. I had always loved the feeling of pen against paper, the measured, slow translation of mind to notebook but easily replaced by quick typing skills and the easiness and portability of a laptop. I had filled several pages with my thoughts exactly a year ago, and one page was titled, “My Wish For Sean”.

I was curious what I had wished for, a year ago, in a seasonal setting so similar to today -- the trees changing in a fury of colors, leaves freefalling from brittle branches and wallpapering the lawn. What had I wished for? This is what I wrote:

My Wish For Sean

To smile
Freely and often
Pink lips framing chicklet teeth.

To bite into the goodness
Without hesitation
And not hide in the backseat of the mini-van.

To be happy
Free of encumbrance
And at peace
With a brain
That runs and hops
Ahead of thoughts and words.

To find love
In safe arms of another
A flower with tender petals
Blossoming open
An umbrella of color
Keeping him safe
And warm.
Holding him tight.

I’ve never been greedy with my wishes
I only want for him
a window left open
A suture
A sling
To help make it possible
To share in the simplest moments
To be more than just this

A year has passed. Another candle added to a frosted cake, a little boy’s new wish (for me, the same wish -- help me help him be all that he can), fall, tumbling into winter, melting to spring and bursting into summer and now back to fall. So much has changed and yet, here I am, holding onto wishes that haven’t changed or been modified.

The other day Sean asked me,
“Mommy, will I be married someday?” his eyes bright, his mouth speckled with grape juice.

I smiled and nodded and said, “Yeah, maybe, Sean.”

I had an overwhelming need to nod my head, to keep the pain and sadness at bay, to not betray him or to let him know that those thoughts never enter my mind concerning him.

If it were my oldest son I would have laughed and said, “Yes if you decide to one day. But not until your at least thirty. You have your whole life in front of you.”

I have always assumed that whatever he might want to pursue he will be able to do so. But I guess I don’t share this assumption when it comes to Sean. Will he find love and marry? Honestly? I can’t even imagine it. And yet, he has this thought, like anybody else. Isn’t he entitled to think it and if so, why does it hurt so much? Am I fast-tracking the rejection that he will encounter in life, the isolation that often comes with autism. And what if he has the desire to belong and to be loved but is too impaired by his disability? Then what?

I try to remind myself that if he can love his dad, his brother and me, then surely he will learn to love others and he will be loved back. Right? But sometimes my heart breaks to think of him heartbroken and alone. Autism has robbed him of so much already.

I think I still need to hold fast to this wish of my boy being happy and loved. We all face heartbreak and sadness and by suffering we learn to appreciate the good in life. I cannot protect him any better than I can protect my oldest son. All I really can do is just love my boys and hold onto hope. And for now I think that's enough.


Cinda said...

Ahhh, Katie, you write so beautifully. I have pondered the very same things only in a different context. Read "Blackbird" if you have the time. Paste the link and it should take you right there. Sean will be loved.

Gimky said...

I love "My Wish for Sean." He is so lucky to have you as a mom.

BerengariaD said...

I love your writing and your wish for Sean. Oh, I understand. I think you'll appreciate the irony that among my three kids, G is the only one who talks about what he'll do with his kids someday, get them a dog, play certain games, be a dad. I wonder if he realizes it usually involves marrying someone? A peer? That Sean wonders about it is a good sign.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Beautiful words, Katie. I came upon your blog while doing research for a fiction manuscript I'm working on. Your honesty is a gift to others.

I think the most profound statement I've found so far is to 'assume competence' - assume that an autistic child understands more than he or she can communicate to others. It's a hopeful assessment.

Joyce said...

I really enjoyed reading your story. Keep the faith and remain happy and keep on smiling! Your certainly a inspiration to all moms.