November 15, 2009

Walking with Friends

Yesterday, my kids and I participated in our first Walk for Autism event. We walked as part of a team organized by a dear friend.

The walk was only one mile, but I learned that walking a mile with a four-year-old and six-year-old can take a while. My daughter complained about aches in multiple parts of her body: ankles, feet, knees and legs. She even told me she was starting to get a headache and that she needed to take a nap. THAT from a child who hasn't napped in at least two years.

But I was so glad I went.

The friends on our team all wanted to know how I am doing. They wanted to know about my children.

They told me how much they have been praying for me and my kids.

One of my son's former teachers and her boyfriend -- a man I had never before met -- walked right beside me and the kids. They helped me keep my son, who was very excited by the whole event, from straying too far and from leaping into the nearby pond (and, oh, how he wanted to jump right in!). They even carried my children. This man whom I had never even met put my children on his shoulders. He laughed at my son's, uhm, enthusiasm. He spoke in calm, quiet words to them both and walked hand-in-hand with my son on multiple occasions.

I saw so many groups of people walking in matching shirts -- all of them supporting a child who has been affected by autism. They wore shirts with slogans like: Kennedy's Kool Krewe or Henry's Helpers.

I saw brothers and sisters walking hand-in-hand with a sibling affected by autism.

It was a a beautiful sight.

I sometimes feel, especially these days, like my walk through life is mostly uphill. But as I walked yesterday with old friends and new, with strangers who smiled at my children because they know -- they know what it means to truly love a child with autism -- I thought of how thankful I was to know so many people who will help at a moment's notice. Mom and Dad, dear freinds, what would I do with you?

November 13, 2009

Words to Make Me Smile

While driving my darling four-year-old daughter to school this morning, I heard her say,

"Mommy, if you were a cookie, I would eat you."

Not sure where that came from, but it sure brought a smile to my sleep-deprived face.

Oh, thank God for my daughter.

November 6, 2009

One foot after the other

So, in an attempt to remind myself that I am still alive, despite the heartache of the past year, I signed up to run a local half-marathon in December. This will be my second race. My first also was a half-marathon than I ran last December to raise money for the school my son was then attending, a nonprofit inclusion preschool offering ABA therapy for children with autism.

I went for a 5-mile run on Monday. It wasn't TOO bad. I went for another today. Yikes. What happened. I was struggling.

Why is running so gosh darn hard?

Is it the lack of sleep? The poor diet? The wine the night before?

Is it the sadness?

Of course, I always have thought that running, for lack of a better word, sucks. I am not an athlete.

But last year, when I ran on behalf of my children's school, I was surprised at just how fulfilling the experience was for me. I kept thinking of all the wonderful people who donated money. Some of them didn't even know me or my family. It was as if I could feel their support at my back, giving me that little extra push.

And, most of all, I thought of my son.

How in the world could I even consider 13 miles a difficult experience when compared to the daily struggles of a child who cannot talk?

When I stop to consider how frustrating it is for my son to not be able to tell me ANYTHING through speech .... well, I find myself at a loss for words.

But, oh, how he is trying. For the first time in his life, he is trying. Really, actually trying to make sounds in an effort to communicate. And I am starting to hear some words -- little ones, not always so clear. But they are there.

I am so very proud.

So, once again, this year when I run, I will be thinking of my beautiful son.

It will be a symbolic effort on my part -- a sort of "see, my life really does gone on despite all that crap I have had thrown my way lately."

But it also will be a reminder to myself to celebrate each and every step that my son makes on that long, long journey. I do not know where he will wind up. But I know that he is not limited by any predetermined course. His accomplishments have not ended.

They are only beginning.

And I will finish that damn half marathon. Despite all of the wine.