February 6, 2011

Off With the Cast, Into the Chlorinated Water: Hallelujah

It is off.

The cast is gone, and my boy has two good feet again.

Inhale, exhale.

I am so relieved.

Autism mothers everywhere can testify: there is great fear in facing the unpredictable, in trying to help your children deal with pain when there is a language barrier that transcends words.

When you struggle to hold your nonverbal seven-year-old while he gets a cast on his foot, you don't have time to think about the unfairness of it all. You just do what needs to be done in that moment--so that your child can heal the part of his body that doctors CAN fix.

That's the thing about autism, about severe autism--it teaches you to not think too far beyond the moment.

Your child has broken bones in his foot. Three bones, to be exact. (They told me two when the cast went on; turns out my son actually broke three bones in his foot.) That really sucks--in ways that parents of typical children cannot begin to understand. But what else is new? Everything about my life as a parent is far beyond what parents of "typical" children can understand.

This is just one more mountain.

One more obstacle.

And the white-coats actually know what to do in this scenario. They can fix broken bones.

For that, I am grateful.

Because my boy has his cast off.

And we are back in the pool.

I watched my two children this evening, as they swam and played in the water.

What a great equalizer the pool is for my son.

He cannot tell you what he thinks, what he knows, what he yearns for.

He can't even tell you that his foot hurts like hell.

He can't ask you what is going on, why he is feeling this unusual pain, why his life is not what it should be.

But he can swim to the depths of the pool. He can float like a jelly-fish. He can move through the water with speed and strength and confidence.

And he can laugh at his sister after she pushes him into the pool.

There are images in my life: pictures that carry me through pain I never could have imagined, and still do not know how to adequately deal with.

One such image is my two children as they were this evening: my daughter pushing my son into the pool and my son resurfacing with that beautiful smile on his face.

I watched my daughter giggle and call to her brother. I watched her climb up and down the ladder of the pool--playfully screaming as Daniel swam near to her, trying so hard to engage him in her world.

I watched him smile at her, in a way that he does not smile for many people. In a way that says, "I love you, dear sister, even though I may never verbalize it, even though I may never express it in a way that the typical world will appreciate."

It is amazing, to watch these two children--separated only by two years and two weeks... and a universe of words.

They share the same two parents, the same DNA, the same environment. And, yet, they could not be more different.

Like night and day.

One filled with words, drama, social graces and a desire to please.

The other largely trapped in an existence without words, without social understanding, without a grasp on what the world expects and why it is necessary to try, at least a bit, to conform.

And I am the mother to both of them ....

God help me.

I will take whatever help I can get.

Tonight, I am just happy that they both can swim and jump and splash.

That their bones bend and straighten and move--with no casts to encumber.

I am grateful to see them both laugh, and to smile at each other.

1 comment:

  1. Phew! I'm so glad for you that his cast is gone!
    Btw, we will be in your neck of the woods next week! 2/21-2/26. Might you guys be up for a playdate one afternoon? Email me: dtolany@gmail.com