I am extremely fortunate. Lately I have been thinking about Bryan and where he is in his life now that he is 16. Does it still hurt that he does not do what typical kids do? Yep, still does. It stings. However, this boy inspires so much love that I really can’t complain. Many teenagers are obnoxious, lazy, fresh. Those words do not live in my Bryan world. A few months ago Bryan started really enjoying posting on Facebook. He has always been a Facebook voyeur of sorts, looking at photos of friends and family and showing me. Once he started posting comments on friends’ pages or posting photos and making comments, lots of people started commenting to me how great it was to “hear his voice”. For those folks that don’t regularly talk with Bryan or even if you do, the appropriate language can be very revealing, in a positive way. It is his way, although inadvertent, of telling the world, I’m here and I’m social and paying attention to what’s happening. Instantly family members, hence the verb, told me how great it was to see his posts, how awesome it was to see his photos, and how funny he is. His quirkiness is always embraced by my extended family and grateful doesn’t even cut it. We all got together in January and everyone was so joyful over his new found FB posting and he felt included, and like always, truly loved for who he is and not who he isn’t. I always take time to think about that. People love my boy, not for who he should be, but for who he is, with all his differences, his autism. I am extremely fortunate. It’s worth repeating.
I have learned that Bryan is also making lots of phone calls. I keep getting texts and calls from people telling me that Bryan called them or Facetimed them. Who does he call? People he is sure love him (verb again); his barometer for genuineness is always intact. They may be awakened by him, slightly irritated by his calling too much, but they don’t complain. They love him and support him, and support me. On Friday, three of his favorite ladies, other than family, took him out to a pizza and movie date with a female classmate in celebration of his birthday. He requested that they do this and they were happy to comply. The photos showed a fun, warm, evening and Bryan was elated. Jason and I were home and I literally could not stop smiling.
I’m not trying to sugar coat raising a child with autism. Those that know me know that I don’t do that. Often times it is so hard and so frustrating that you want to scream and cry for hours or you start looking into the witness protection program, as if you could disappear and start all over in a new life. After all of these years to still struggle with language and still wonder what is truly in his head can be draining. What is the difference between coping and coping well? Love. Love and humor. Love given so wholeheartedly and so unconditionally to him and to Jason and me, it humbles me. And not just family love. I have received pure, sweet love, from friends, acquaintances and from strangers who just get it or are just taking a moment to recognize the significance of compassion.