Fish Are Friends, Not Food

Those of you familiar with “Finding Nemo” may remember this line when Bruce the shark is trying to have a support group with other sharks so they don’t lose control and eat fish. This somehow is supposed to be comforting to Marlin and Dory who are on their quest to find Nemo. What it makes me think of us is that there are unlikely or unexpected relationships in your life that really change you or your perspective. I have people in my life who I would’ve never known or befriended if it were not for Autism. Of course we are all victims of circumstance and meet people at work, etc all based on what we are doing and how we interact. But I’m talking about connections with friends that on paper are so unlikely. One is my friend Renee, she and I have almost nothing in common. I am a NYer , Jewish, liberal as can be. She is from a tiny town in the south (I think they got their first traffic light recently) and is conservative and Christian. She goes to Church regularly and I am not really religious. She and I met through our boys, (she has two on the spectrum) at our local elementary school about 5 years ago. After some brief acquaintance type stuff, we went out with the husbands and it all clicked. We are living, walking, breathing proof, that commonality creates comfort. We laugh together, cry together, and as she taught me, we are on this “journey” together. We don’t talk during campaign season, I must admit her admiration for Sarah Palin did test me a bit, but we have realized that our love of family and our deepest fears for and love of our boys is a bond far greater than anything else. This is just an example, there are others and it gives me some hope for the world. I don’t believe what she believes, she doesn’t believe what I believe, but who gives a crap really? When you are in the trenches you don’t care about someone’s belief system, you care if they have your back.

I am thinking so much about friends today and what gets us out of bed each morning. One year ago today one of my friends lost his 9 year battle with cancer. He was a childhood friend and the last time I saw him was 12/23/2009. These things make you reflect on what is important. My BFF Pammy called last night to say her father had suddenly taken ill. When I saw her phone number on my called ID on my house phone, my stomach went into my throat. It was not our usual venting time and out of the ordinary calls always get my adrenaline going. We have been friends for more than 30 years, and we really “get” each other. We tease each other and support each other and just laugh about ridiculous stuff. She taught me something that is invaluable, you have to laugh at yourself. I am defensive by nature and some combination of her ability to do this herself, and the support of my husband has helped me to find humor in my faults rather than be afraid of them. It’s a gift. I truly believe there is nothing like old friends, the ones that watched you grow up and help to form you into who you are today. Pam was one of the first friends I ever spoke to about Bryan’s developmental issues. She literally brought me in off of the ledge. (I feel like we are Batman and Robin sometimes climbing up the side of building-where neither one of us would dare let go). I mean who the hell ever heard of sensory integration or perseveration? We navigate, kids, life, aging, love, together. She is my fellow shark in the Finding Nemo of life!!


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