Autism – taken from the Greek word autos meaning “self”, “alone”
~Student Encyclopedia Britannica
“…for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6
Since she was little, Rhema has been one to go it alone.
She would scrape her knees and never cry. Never come to me. Bloody legs were my only clue that she’d hurt herself.
There have been mornings I have found her in bed, lying in vomit. I’ve imagined her sick, holding her stomach during the night, not having the words or even the unction to call on her mama.
Other times I have put her to bed, come downstairs and discovered a box of spaghetti and a jar of sauce sitting on the table. Oh, sweet child, were you still hungry? Why didn’t you try harder to make me understand you wanted spaghetti? Don’t you know I would do anything for you?
She laughs. She throws her head back, her eyes dance and her shoulders shake with giggles. You can’t help but smile at her laughter, one of my favorite sounds. But it’s an inside joke; she doesn’t need me to laugh along.
Then there are times when she, without warning, is overwhelmed with emotion. I look over and see her face twisted in sadness, silent tears streaming from huge, brown eyes. It’s the most melancholy cry I’ve ever seen, and I want so much just to be able to talk with her, know what’s on her mind. I wonder if she’s sad that I don’t know what she knows. I wonder if it makes her feel lonely.
Years ago, she did not want to be held or touched or comforted the way I give comfort. But now, more times than not, she is most cuddly when she’s sad. What a gift! A friend once told me to take advantage of these times, and so I stopped hurrying and sheltered her in my arms.
Because I need her to know, really know, that I’m her mommy.
Quietly I told her, “So little girl, I’m your mommy, you know? You may spend hours a day away from me – with people who teach you and care for you, help you go to the bathroom, help you eat, help you play. And when I drop you off, let you go, pick you up, you might not look at me, you might not say hi or bye. But I’m the one who loves you best. I’m the one who was with you in the beginning. Just you and me, remember? You came out looking like a sunburned Sumo wrestler with a bad hairstyle. I am always with you. Whatever you need I will try to be. You need a knee-healer, a spaghetti-maker, a hand-holder in the night, a hiding place? I’m yours, again and again. If you never have a friend, I’ll be your closest friend. And when you can’t speak or call my name, when you barely have the ability to come, baby, I’ll come to you. You will learn you can make use of me.”
As I held her, I suddenly saw myself in her. Trying to go it alone. Not enlisting the help of an ever-present, ever faithful Source: my awesome God. Not comprehending the depth of His love. Not daring to believe that I really could find all I need in Him.
The words played over again:
“Because I need you to know, really know, that I’m your God.
Little girl, do you know what that means? You may spend hours a day away from me – with people who teach you and care for you. And when I drop you off, let you go, pick you up, you might not look at me, you might not say hi or bye. But I’m the one who loves you best. I’m the one who was with you in the beginning. I AM the Beginning, the End. I AM. Always with you, always for you. You need a heart-healer, a way-maker, a song in the night, a hiding place? I AM. yours. I’ll be your closest friend, true lover of your soul. And when you can’t speak, when you barely have the strength to come, I’ll run to you. So make use of me.”