Today N is 12 years old. It was about 1 hour ago, 12 years ago, that my life changed in a dramatic way. I did not know it, at the time, that the birth of this child would change me in ways I could never have imagined. Every child does that? Well, yes, but there are changes, and there are CHANGES!
N’s birthday has always been bittersweet. Usually more bitter than sweet. In spite of trying to stay in the moment, I have inevitably been sucked back into memories: and in the process I have found myself re-living some of the mostly difficult times we have experienced together. My memories are not all bad, but they start that way, because that is what happened. They follow a progression, from his infant illness, hospitalization, surgery, failure to meet developmental milestones, loss of developmental milestones, regression, worst case scenarios, autism, ramifications of autism, depression, fear, losing hope, finding things unexpected; finding connection, communication, acceptance, and love. It is like travelling along a road that descends into a valley filled with fog, and then slowly, fearfully, carefully, finding the road to travel upward and outward to where there is visibility.
This birthday – I am so glad to say that I have left that valley. I don’t care if he did not want to open his presents. They are still sitting wrapped on the table. Maybe I will just put them under the tree for Christmas! It does not matter that he was afraid of the birthday cake, or that it took him so many tries to blow out the candles, or that he did not eat the piece of cake that I cut for him but instead ate the icing off the rest of the cake. It is his birthday, it is his birthday cake! It does not matter that he was more interested in sticking to his routine than having a celebration! Today I am glad that he came into my life and I celebrate that gift with all who are able to understand.