Another Milestone Lost

It’s that time of year again – prom season. It’s the time of year when I avoid my Facebook Newsfeed like the plague. The pictures of my friend’s teenagers eat away at me. I look at my friend’s son who was born around the same time as Mike and feel the giant gap between our boys. This year, the pain is compounded by the reality that Mike is a senior. He should be preparing for graduation, packing for college, and attending the prom like the rest of his classmates. He is not.

If you follow my blog, you know how deeply I love, accept, and celebrate Mike. I’ve rejoiced with every milestone; knowing how much effort basic tasks are for him to master. I do my best to approach each day with acceptance. I have mastered the art of burying my pain and remembering that each day is a gift. This year, I’ve been having a difficult time pushing away the painful realities. I’ve received college brochures, been solicited for graduation announcements, and even received a call from a military recruiter. There have been countless little ‘hits’ that I’ve had to push out of my mind and heart. At the beginning of the year, I was provided a graduation packet that included a form to order Mike’s cap & gown. I glanced at it and stuck it in a pile of papers on my desk. I haven’t been able to open the packet since, and the deadlines have past.

While I’m proud of Mike’s accomplishments, I’m also feeling melancholy. He is graduating, but returning to the same school for four more years. He will be there after his younger sister matriculates to college. He will be there until he is twenty-two years old.

After painful consideration, I’ve decided to skip Mike’s high school graduation ceremony. While I have no doubt that his school and teachers would provide whatever accommodations necessary to ensure that his participation would be without incident, I’m just not sure that there is anything that could accommodate ME.

I know that I won’t be able to sit in an audience and watch his typical peers transition to life without feeling immense sadness. I don’t want to listen to speeches about opportunities and the future. I don’t want to see Mike sitting in the crowd of students with headphones on and playing on his iPad. I don’t want to spend his Graduation day mourning for his reality.

I’ve decided to celebrate Mike’s accomplishments in a manner that he will enjoy. I’ve decided to have a private party with his friends and family. I’ve decided to avoid the traditional and opt for the personal. In all honesty, a private party is probably the greatest graduation present I could give him. It’s an accommodation that will let him be ‘Mike’.

 

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11 thoughts on “Another Milestone Lost

  1. crackedup says:

    I get it!
    my child just quit living life and did lots of drugs! Imagine – I’m a school teacher and my husband owned his own business
    We never suspected a thing until one day he just quit going to school
    I was devastated!
    This child had potential , I mean major professional potential to play whatever sport chosen.
    He simply quit.
    When friends kids were off to college I just cried.
    I couldn’t stand it.
    U. Of Illinois, Michigan State, U of San Francisco – you name it – classmates one by one were accepted and left for college.
    My child sat on a chair
    We visited doctors and therapists and child just sat there, or slept, or met druggie dealer!
    It’s over now!
    Graduation has passed!
    My child survived!
    My child is working!
    Who cares about prom – my child is alive!

    Remember it is not the card I asked for but it is the card I was dealt.
    I play the card every day!
    Every day is a small victory!
    As I get farther away from that graduation and prom – the pain lessens!
    We all get stronger and what seemed so important has moved far far away!

    This is life!

    Ups!

    Downs!

    And just one day at a time!

  2. Elisa French says:

    What a great idea. Yes, a party where he can be himself. This is his celebration, his way not the NT way. The way that rips at out hearts while others politely clap and we pretend. I agree with this and when it is Tyler’s turn I may do just that as well.

  3. Christine says:

    I completely understand and have been thinking the similar thoughts. My boy would be graduating this year as well. He is in a special education school and its pretty much business as usual. He will have his usual summer session and be back in the same place in September until he is 21. He should be a thriving typical 18 year old young man with a car, a job and a girlfriend, out and about. I cherish the young man he is, but I do mourn these things for my guy as well. As parents, we always will and will wonder the what ifs.

    On a upbeat note, a party sounds wonderful for everyone involved. You have inspired me to perhaps have a “graduation party” for my son in the summer as well!

    Thanks for your post and the great idea!

  4. The party is a great idea! It is a wonderful example of how we engage our creativity and knowledge of our children to tailor and make more flexible things for them. Would that the rest of the world could do more of this.

  5. Suzanne B. says:

    The definition of bittersweet. I love that you focus on the sweet without denying the bitter. I hope your party rocks it out, because you and Mike deserve it!

  6. auntierin says:

    I celebrate Mike and you and ALL of your accomplishments! You give joy and insight to do many of us every single day
    You deserve this day and should celebrate with gusto!

  7. Lisa Turner says:

    Ok I get your sadness, your loss, your broken dreams – but let me ask you this are they YOUR dreams or his that were not realised? I left my dreams at the therapists door 4 years ago when the word Autism was first bandied about regarding my son. My dreams were of him getting through school, making friends, going to uni, getting married, having a career, driving a car for peet’s sake, having kids…sure it would be great if he ‘achieved’ my dreams but I don’t want him to, I want him to achieve his dreams and like you I will support my son to the ends of the earth for him to achieve HIS dreams whatever they are. So please don’t think of it as a loss, there should be no sadness, you should go with your son to the grad ceremony. Why not? He deserves to be there just as much as all the other kids whether he is heading off to college/uni or not. And just so you know college/uni is not the be all and end all of one’s education, it’s not everything for everyone, life is and it’s how you, your son, me and my kids live it. Don’t be sad, don’t feel broken, be happy and proud and upstanding for you (and your family and friends) assisted your lad to be where he is today and not only is his grad ceremony about him and his peers it’s about you too! Congrats Mum you’ve raised an awesome kid now go celebrate that milestone together.

  8. April Allen says:

    Keeping it real. That’s why you were my first true auti-blogger love. And still are And I don’t even know you. Thank you for putting out there the words that are still hard for me to form. I’m struggling right now with acceptance on my part—again. It’s like a hodge podge of emotions that play on repeat for the past 9 years from when I officially got my twins diagnosis. Thank you

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