Life in Autism Land often brings unexpected joy and beautiful humor, and I love having this space to record it. It’s startling how in an instant, moments in the journey can also bring a tidal wave of unsettling fear, heartache and discouragement.
On the whole, we have not experienced a high degree of self-injurious and aggressive behavior from Rhema. She’s certainly had periods of this, but it’s been about a year since we’ve seen anything of concern.
For reasons I may never know, Rhema’s aggressive behavior spiked this past weekend. Thankfully, all of it directed at me.
Several times while we were riding in the car, she became upset, grabbed me by the top of the head and pulled out large clumps of my hair. On another occasion, seemingly out of the blue, she lunged toward me and clawed at my face. Honorable mention? She also got in a few really good bites on my hands.
Each time afterward she would cover her face and weep. Her cheeks hot, clutching fistfulls of my hair in her hand.
These moments are indelible scars to the heart. I watch her bewildered, hurt. What is going on??? So sad for her; I know this is not my girl.
I hold my breath trying to calm the fear and panic threatening to rush in. What if the aggressions get worse? What if we can’t stop this? What will I do when she’s fifteen? What will I do next week?
The Army is calling Brandon away for another summer; he leaves in two weeks. Last summer was the hardest time I’ve ever had handling Rhema’s behaviors, and I did it alone. Now, just as he’s leaving, the behaviors are ramping up. Again? How can I do this again?
I came across this quote last week and it whispers to me over and over:
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The husband goes shopping for a new refrigerator and I tag along, my whole being battling for calm, for thankfulness. I say to no one in particular, “Sometimes I almost forget she has autism. And then days like this scream at me ‘She really has autism!’”
Somehow the dude working at the store, in the refrigerator section, totally understands why we need special locks on the fridge doors. He happens to be a pastor at a nearby church. His son is eight like our Rhema is eight. His son happens to have autism. A divine appointment, yes, that’s what we call it.
We share many stories, even though we already know each other’s stories.
And then, on a rainy night on planet Earth, in the United States, in a small town in Massachusetts, at a Lowe’s store, in the refrigerator aisle, the three of us clasp hands and we pray.
And I know, know, know God is with me.
And with her. And with us.
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.