It has taken me several weeks to process my emotions and attempt to compose this blog posting.
While I typically have the answers to Mike’s question, this one left me speechless – unable to respond. In my mind, all I could conjure was because you have autism. Knowing that Mike would not be able to process the cruel realities of that response, I simply tried to redirect his attention elsewhere. While I successfully redirected Mike, the incident has been haunting me.
Last month, we celebrated Mike’s birthday with a dinner party at Outback Steakhouse. A few of Mike’s teachers and classmates joined us in the celebration. If you follow my blog, you have heard me mention Mike’s special friend, Lisa.
Lisa and Mike were classmates for four years and developed a true friendship. I have taken Lisa and Mike to Disney World, movies, school dances, dinners, and all of the school functions offered. They ate lunch together in the lunchroom and on occasion would even hold hands. In the most innocent way possible, Lisa is Mike’s girlfriend.
Mike and Lisa had not seen each other for several months prior to his birthday dinner and they were thrilled to be together. They sat at the end of our long table watching YouTube videos on Mike’s iPad, both smiling – happy to be together.
As we were leaving the restaurant, Mike grabbed my arm and said, “Lisa goes to the doctor to get a baby.” The comment jolted and confused me. I had no idea what he was referencing. In my mind, I started sorting through the catalogue of movie and YouTube scripts. I was stumped and a little concerned that other people heard his comment. I tried to shush him and redirect the conversation to his birthday, but he was determined to make me understand. He repeated the statement again and held up his iPad for me to see.
On Mike’s iPad was a cartoon picture of a family. The mom was in a hospital bed holding their new baby and the dad was sitting next to her. I immediately understood what he was saying and it was as if I knife had been plunged through my heart.
Mike understands the seasons of life. He wants what everyone wants – a family of his own.
That night as I walked our dogs, the tears started to flow. How do I tell my son that he cannot have what everyone else has? How do I explain that his life is ‘different’ and NOT equal? How much does he really understand? How much pain and longing will he experience throughout his lifetime?
Today, as I sit here writing, tears streaming down my face, I still do not have the answers. The only one I can come up with – because you have autism.