For us, autism means that life is a series of workarounds. The grandparents are in town and we wanted to take them to the Museum of Science. It’s one of Hope’s favorite places… and something akin to torture for Rhema. I suppose leaving Rhema home with a sitter was an option but it’s not one she or I could stomach. I never want her to feel that she’s been left behind. So we took the train because Rhema and Hope love the train. We split up at North Station in the middle of a snowstorm: Brandon, Hope and the grandparents went to the museum and Rhema and I went off in search of the best chicken lo mein and cookies in the city.
I was happy to spend the day holding her hand on a snowy adventure, just the two of us. One thing I know about my girl: she’s not so interested in the destination but she very much enjoys the going, the process of getting there, wherever there is. (So it goes with opening presents. I was thrilled when she finally got into unwrapping gifts. Nowadays she’s happy to rip off the paper, but once that’s done the thrill is gone. She tosses the gift aside without so much as a glance!)
We settled on a food court in a small mall and ordered her favorite chicken lo mein.
I was contentedly watching her eat when she reached into my bag, brought out her iPad and tapped the “I want” symbol and then the “ketchup” symbol. “I want ketchup.” So simple. So earth shaking. Of course! Of course she wants ketchup. My girl wants ketchup! I cannot put into words how powerful it is when she communicates with me in this way. I want to leap and dance and kiss her face and trip over myself to get her what she wants. Just because she asked.
I grabbed her hand and we went over to McDonalds and asked the kid at the counter for ketchup. And he did. He gave us ten ketchup packets. Just because she asked.
After the ketchup-with-a-little-lo-mein lunch, we trudged through snow and ice to get to a Boston bakery selling Deflate-gate football cookies. We waited in a long line only to discover that they had sold out of the cookies making fun of the deflated football scandal. We got some Patriots jersey cookie instead. Of which I ate two. To show my support. Yeah.
Then we rode the subway to the end of the line and back. I think she would have been content doing that all afternoon, rocking in her seat and humming softly. We caught the train home and as glorious creation sped by and we stared at icy rain on the windows I got to remind myself of this: “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
And this, something Brandon once wrote when he was deployed to Iraq and wanted more than anything just to be able to take Rhema swimming: “I’m comforted because I know with all that this life has for us in terms of challenges or desires or whatever, I WANT Rhema to go swimming… as her father, I WANT nothing more than to take her myself. Our heavenly Father sees us looking through the window at life, and WANTS good things for us. Just like I see Rhema looking and innocently desiring to jump in that water, so too He watches us and CARES about our desires. I have to TRUST Him that He will give us what we need and, when it is good for us, He truly wants us to have what we desire.”
And this: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” Eph. 3:20