A couple weeks ago we visited a friend who has two adult daughters with autism. We’d met on a few occasions over the years, but never had a chance to spend time together until this visit.
Some describe themselves/their children as “lightly brushed” with autism. When Rhema was younger I so wanted to believe that description fit her. I convinced myself and told others she was “mild” as if I were talking about salsa. But my visions of a small paintbrush gradually gave way to a large bucket of bold paint being dumped over her head. This realization was far more devastating and painful for me than the day she was diagnosed.
There are times when I feel I cannot relate to some of the struggles of other autism mama’s – our journeys seem so different.
I looked forward to time with this new friend and her not-lightly-brushed daughters, knowing they could relate to our flavor of autism.
We had a great time. It’s a relief to be in a place where you really don’t need to worry about a thing, because everyone really gets it.
But there was a quiet thoughtfulness, maybe even heaviness? inside me, a sobering. And it stayed with me in the days that followed. I found myself reviewing my life, all my days up until it all changed forever when I became a mother. I wondered at God’s plan, the unexpected. I began doing the thing that I try so hard not to do: freaking out about the future — how does life work for my girl twenty years from now?
Later my friend wrote that the visit had been bittersweet for her and guessed it was for me. She told me she identified with my many concerns for Rhema at 8 years old, and how she remembered the stress and uncertainty of those years. Her daughters are in their 20’s now and she still has some of the same issues, but she believes that life is overall easier now than when they were 8. Then she wrote what my heart needed to hear, “I’m sure it’s a little disconcerting to see that [my daughters'] lives remain so circumspect. On the other hand, they’re happy and well loved. And I hope that’s reassuring.”
Happy and well loved, I thought of her words as I walked with Rhema, held her hand. In this moment God has given, her girls, my girls, they are happy and well loved. This moment works. This moment is enough. This moment is good.
I don’t know what tomorrow looks like, but I’m learning to trust Him for all of her moments to come.
Anyway, this friend, she knew. Better than anyone could know, she just knew.