Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Pain


Does the pain ever go away?

I recently saw this question posed to another blogger and it caused me to reflect. 



I can remember my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten – 5-years after Mike was diagnosed. I was standing amongst the other mothers watching our babies, in their Catholic school uniforms, embark on their first day of school.  We ALL had tears in our eyes but my tears were different. While I was emotional about my daughter’s transition to Kindergarten – my tears were mostly for my son.

As a former Catholic school student, there’s an emotional bond in wearing that plaid jumper and those navy blue shorts.  Seeing your child in ‘their’ first Catholic school uniform is a transitional moment. It’s a bond that can only be appreciated by ‘other’ Catholic school students.

As I looked at my daughter’s Kindergarten class, I found myself consumed with the little boys.  The pain was unbearable and I was relieved that I was able to mask my tears – attributing them to my daughter. In reality, my tears were for Mike. He wasn’t wearing the navy blue shorts, with the white shirt, embroidered with the school logo. He had autism!

Over the years, I’ve had countless moments like this. They mostly surround events or experiences that Mike should be participating in. 

I’d like to be able to tell you that, with time, the pain subsides and that there’s acceptance – if there is, I haven’t found it.  At any given moment, something can trigger me emotionally and I’m reduced to tears. What has subsided is some of the stresses.  Gone are the 30-hour a week therapy programs and my obsessive search for ‘the cure’.  

While I still grieve the loss of the son I was expecting, I’ve come to understand that the grief and pain that I feel is my own.  Mike is not grieving any of these losses – certainly not missing out on Catholic school.  When I shift my focus from MY perspective of happiness to his – I see that his life IS fulfilled.  There is balance, acceptance, and Mike is happy. 


It’s been 16-years since he was diagnosed and my goal for him is still the same.  It’s the same goal I have for my daughter –be happy! If they can achieve that, they’re better off than most of society.









    

8 comments:

  1. My son Matthew turned 18 this past Tuesday. I spent the days leading up to his birthday crying. I too was grieving for the son I thought I'd lost. At 18, he should be having his senior pictures taken, driving a car, hanging with friends and scouting for colleges. My handsome 5'10" strapping young man is autistic, having been diagnosed at the age of 4 1/2. My husband and I are currently awaiting a court date for guardianship. If anyone would have told me that we'd one day be going through this kind of process I'd have laughed in their faces. But here we are. I'm grieving for what I have lost or what I thought I lost. Matthew is joyful, always smiling, always on the go, and for all intents and purposes seems happy. I so thank you for this post. It's nice to know that I am not alone. By the way, your young man is quite handsome too!

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    1. THANK YOU, Lorelei! Mike turns 18 in November, I'm going through the same process and emotions. It's very bittersweet! :-)

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  2. What a great post. Thank you for articulating what I feel so eloquently. My daughter is 8 1/2 and I've gotten used to not doing a lot of the things I'd dreamed for her: ballet, soccer, whatever. But I'm pregnant with my second now and I do wonder if this one will be able to do all those things and if so, will it bring it all up for me again? Probably. Because you're right- goals change, the fight changes, but the kick in the gut is still there.

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    1. One child cannot replace the other but there is a much greater appreciation for the little things. It's very bittersweet - but the sweet is so much sweeter!

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  3. My son Benjamin is 16. His "Autism" is cause by brain damage sustained in utero. No, they cant answer me how, why, or when. Yes. Every day. I wonder if it was the drugs I took years before. I wonder if I ate the wrong thing. Was I not excited enough?
    Benjamin is amazing. He's sweet and sensitive and smarter than I am. He WILL go to prom, have "fancy" senior pictures taken and probably drive a car BUT....I too have to grieve the son I thought I was having. I dont so much anymore but spent months crying and raging...12 years ago when "THEY" decided this was the closed diagnosis we'd ever get. Then, I think. How do I know the son I lost? Or think I lost. What if this hadnt happened to him? Would he be a jerk? Would he be failing, dropping out of school, addicted to drugs, stealing?? His brother was a hot mess for a long time...Im not sure thats any better! Benjamin is the light of my life. He's...well, he's GOOD. Never been in trouble. Never grounded, never spanked, never punished. He's just a good kid. Im LUCKY he's the way he is. You are probably lucky Mike is too!!

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    1. I'm thankful that I'm his mother - I'm a fighter and I know what I've done for him. We're all exactly where we should be - lucky.

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  4. You really hit the nail on the head with this one. My Rachel is 20, and I've done my share of crying. But something turned and I realized that even when I was sad for the things she would never do, it only lasts a minute now, and then I'm back to figuring out how to make her happy exactly the way she wants to be happy, not what I think would make her happy. As far as I'm concerned, if it only lasts a minute, I'm actually happy too! A minute of pain is nothing compared to the rest of the the time we spend focusing on the positive and seeing the good and enjoying her, just being Rachel.

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