Here’s what I know

The last few weeks have been tougher than anticipated. I somehow felt since my mom suffered with Alzheimer’s for the last few years and wasn’t really herself that her passing would be easier. Wrong again. You see you don’t mourn someone who is alive, even in an altered state, so your brain is sort of fooled into not processing anything. The good news is I have had a lot of really warm memories trickle out, most of the trickling in the form of tears, not all of sadness, but more of remembrance.

I have also learned so much over the last few weeks about my boys. The morning of my Mom’s funeral Bryan was so anxious and so strung out and tough to deal with, understandable intellectually, but emotionally it was hard for me to garner the patience he deserved. Interestingly enough, when we got into the Limo to go he completely calmed down. He knew what was expected of him for the service and for me and like all significant things we have had, his Bar Mitzvah, Jason’s Bar Mitzvah, visiting my parents in the hospital/rehab/hospice, he rises to the occasion. He somehow can dig deep enough into whatever control he has, and manages to click into it when needed. It is a stroke of maturity, of understanding, of depth. If I said I was proud of him that would completely trivialize it. It’s not pride per se, it’s respect for him and his autism. Bryan’s manifestation of anxiety is so deep rooted that for him to exercise control at these moments is magical. He not only does this because it’s what is expected, mostly because his dad and I have explained it to him over and over, but because he wants to please, comply, be included, loved, respected. I find myself watching him lately and notice that he seems fairly relieved since my mom is gone. He is not happy she is gone, he 100% adored her, but he is relieved on my behalf. He is relieved that I am relieved. For those of you that might be naysayers, you need to understand that for Bryan, not all people with autism, but for Bryan, he loves family, loves people, and is truly distraught when Jason or I am upset.  His empathy for me is boundless. I truly believe that my relationship with Bryan is a metaphor for how I want all of my relationships. I always want to be better, to be more patient, to be forgiving, to be disciplined. The trust I offer to Bryan, and to Jason, although differently, is my pride, my essence, and what drives me each day. As a parent to a child with autism, who you are to them is who you should be to the world.

For the mourning, Jason comes out with it, “Mom, you seem better, I’m glad Grandma’s at peace.” Often I find Jason can articulate what Bryan can only manifest in alternative ways. Bryan will say, “Grandma died, it’s sad.” or “your mom died, Judy Gelman, rest in peace Grandma.” All part of a grieving process, a mourning that we have not experienced before collectively.

Bryan has also started to express some things that while he has said in passing, seem to reflect his even greater awareness of where he is in his life, and his expectations. A few times recently he said he wants to learn how to drive. Bryan loves the gps and knows how to get places and tells me where to turn etc. He is physically coordinated enough to drive, but not emotionally mature enough or focused enough to do so. However, I will not rule this one out in the future. He also says he wants to go to college; this one may be easier since there are now many programs for kids with autism. We recently moved and we are extremely happy in our new place. We have our own pool, something we missed terribly at our last place that had a community pool, and we have spent so much time together having meals or hanging out poolside.  Earlier I realized my Mom never saw this place and never will, and the sadness returns. I got a little emotional and Bryan said “Mom, you’re sad about Grandma, she died, your mom died.” The kid just gets me.

3 thoughts on “Here’s what I know”

  1. Thank you for seeing clearly and transforming your sight into letters and words upon the pages. The clearing is important , a compass to lean on, a foundation to stand upon.

  2. Jane, this is so beautifully clear and deeply moving. Forgive the paraphrasing, the part about ‘treating your children how you should treat the world.’ You are so aware and raw in your understanding, love, and words. Thank you for sharing this is a way that I ‘get it’. Your mother, from my experience, was pure class, love, and family. I hold space for your grief and healing.

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