Friday, May 22, 2015

Where Grace Will Find Us

     One of the  most difficult things about autism is when you see how your child struggles to understand why some things don't work the way they want things to work. You see it in his eyes how the struggle is very much real. You see disorientation, confusion and hurt. And in your heart the struggle is magnified ten times more. You and your child enter into this dark place. This place where the limits of your patience are tested, the breadth of your knowledge of the countless therapies and intervention strategies that your child's teachers and therapists have taught you are being tested, the place where the strength and courage of the both of you are challenged. And over the years as you have learned to embrace this dark place, you find yourselves in this singular moment in time that you were able to diffuse a meltdown or a tantrum. Your child was able to rise above this always horrendous place.

       You then realize how both of you have risen above that dark place. And this is one of the most beautiful moments that you hold dearly in your heart. Because this moment reminds you that no matter how hard life may be there is hope. And hope is where your strength is born. 

       Garret and I had one such moment last night. The details do not matter. Only that at the height of confusion he came to me and I held him, counting calmly from 1 to 10. And he allowed himself to be held. For those of you who are all too familiar with autism, you know a simple hug won't drive the "boo boo" away. In fact a hug might just escalate it. But last night it didn't. I held him and somehow the embrace actually soothed him as I hoped many times in the past it would. 

      Hope, defined by Merriam-Webster as a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.  I always thought that this desire is what enables people to begin gathering strength, to start doing everything they can to fulfill a certain goal.

      But I believe there is a stronger more potent term that keeps the gathering of strength going--Faith, defined as strong belief or trust in someone or something.

      While hope patiently waits, faith leaps. And it is in the leaping that strength is gained. It is in the leaping that strength is cemented, made permanent.

       Last night, it may seem that Garret was helpless in all the ways autism limits his understanding of the unpredictability of things. It may seem that I was the only one who did all the 'diffusing". But no. A resolute no.  I believe in my heart that Garret has this quiet reservoir of strength that has only grown over the years and this was what allowed him to rise above the dark place we were in.  And in his strength I gained my own.

      Grace. defined as "unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification." Such a technical and impersonal definition. Let me give it another face-- I hoped and I believed. In this hope of only better things to come for my boys, I have found my strength,  but in my faith, I have made my strength permanent and resolute, by doing everything I can for them, even if I fail countless times. And because of this, Grace found me, found us. 
        He came to me and I held him and rocked him counting, 1, 2,3, 4, 5... 10. His screams subsided into whimpers and I held him closer still. I looked into his tear-filled eyes and told him with all the force of my beating heart, "I love you, Garret. You are my good boy." He stops crying and says, "Boy..." 
"I do not understand the mystery of grace-- only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us." - Anne Lamott