I’m learning more than I ever wanted to know these days. Lessons about isolation, humility, frustration, real fear, unconditional love, what’s important, patience, gratitude, and so very much more. But what I have really learned the most about is friendship. Friendship takes on a whole different meaning when your life is affected by ASD – or any crisis or special-needs issue that affects your child. For, no matter how much your friends love you, there are some things in life that you cannot possibly understand until you have experienced them. Please do not misunderstand me. I have dear, dear friends who have kept me sane throughout the last year of panic, paralyzing fear, occasional depression, sometimes regression, moments of joy, and my inevitable obsession with learning more about my child’s condition. (It’s even worse when you are a librarian. lol) They have tolerated me obsessing, repeating myself, forgetting to ask about their lives, and every other way I have slacked off in the friendship department over the past year. (You guys know who you are, and I love you.)
But there is a part of my heart now that even they do not have access to – that part that toddles around, smiling and flapping away, still happily oblivious to the difficulties facing him. That part of me is only accessible to those who know. That kind of friendship and sisterhood/brotherhood is intimate indeed.
I have such a friend. Her name is Christy and, though neither of us ever dreamed years ago we would find ourselves on a similar path, she is now the reason I believe in destiny – that certain people are simply meant to find one another. I believe that we both endured a summer of algebraic torture in college simply because the two little souls who were destined to affect our lives would one day be arriving.
Christy has been on this road for longer than me. Her journey raising a special-needs child began in 2001, with a CMV affected child. (Read her story.) And, though we were friends, I didn’t truly understand her pain and isolation. It wasn’t until last year that our friendship took on new meaning for us both. When I began to face that Callum was on the spectrum, I reached out to her. I sent her a message apologizing to her for all of the missed opportunities to help her and for all of the times I could have been there more. But , she already knew more than me and wisely informed me that I couldn’t possibly have known. She, with open arms, welcomed me to a club you don’t imagine yourself joining.
And she gave me a gift. A gift that I explain each and every time someone asks me about it. A gift that makes me cry again just writing about it. She pulled out of her purse a small box. In it, was a silver ring. It said, “Love Life”, and on the inside, “Be Brave”.
And then she stunned me. She told me that she had a matching ring. For, years earlier, she had seen the ring and knew, simply knew, that one day she would need to give it to someone else. She didn’t know who, but she had kept it for years – until I emerged as the person who needed it. I now wear that ring every day. It has become as valuable to me as my wedding band. It has become my mantra on hard days and my joy on the good ones.
Over the past few days, my readers have also taught me much about friendship and destiny. To each and every one of you who have reached out via Twitter, Facebook, Email, and this blog, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. All of you have also been placed squarely on my path in this new journey. Your words and support are no accident; they are destiny. Thank you for the open arms into which you have also welcomed me into The Club. All of you have reassured me that it’s gonna be okay.
Thank you to my dear friend Christy and all of my new dear friends in the blogosphere. You are all my heroes.