Saturday, June 27, 2015

Our Boys' Two Cents

After a week of rain, the sky finally decided to clear. Garret goes to our garage gym, sits down and gazes at the sky in front of him.  He then stands up, searches for the sun and turns to me, half-demand, half-plea saying, "Walking." How could I refuse? So off we go our usual route. Further up the road, the sun was resplendent in all its glory. I look at my little prince and the joy on his face is  indescribable.

Everyday I marvel at how simple my boys' happiness is. Whether it's Garret showing me a puzzle piece from his alphabet form board telling me with a smile on his face, "V, M, G" Or him saying, "A-pee," after I agreed to put his music back on, or Morgan turning to me to touch my face and grinning his toothy grin, his way of telling me how delighted he is that we were taking them out for a joy ride. Their requests are simple, their verbal language may be limited but their joys, oh their joys, how they manifest it abundantly.

But more than anything, what I remember is that many years ago, I saw how Garret could be intensely immersed in his own world. I worried immensely about how I could break these walls of autism and connect with my son.  I remember very clearly how I would just keep telling him, "Garret, give Mama a kiss," a request that he first responded to, albeit mechanically at the time, and which I kept repeating just to reassure myself that there was a bridge connecting both of our worlds. 

Now? Now we converse in songs, me singing the first line, him filling in the rest of the stanzas of his nursery rhymes. We go back and forth until the song ends. He says to me, "Anana...A-koo," signifying he wants to eat a banana or an apple. Yesterday when his papa said, "School this afternoon with teacher, Garret," he responded without prompt, "Ow-kay."

Unarguably, now is different. Now, he has come a long way. My heart wells up every time I bask in this realization.

Now I reflect on two important life lessons among countless ones that our boys have unknowingly taught me, their two cents for me today:

1.To remember what is important. What is important is simple.  Our boys' verbal expression may be limited by what autism has given them but they communicate their needs clearly in so many different ways. Their words may be small, but their heart is magnanimous. At the heart of it all, joy, intent, courage, hard work and love are what is important.

2. To focus on the goodness in life. To be mindful of the daily miracles of my life: to be able to wake up to another day, to breathe air that nourishes my body, to be grateful for family and friends that are family, to be aware of the minute milestones Garret and Morgan achieve everyday, to celebrate who and what they are every minute. To be in the present moment always.

This is not to say that I disregard mistakes and unfortunate events. Whatever setbacks I am encountering, let it be a lesson on transformation. Using my weaknesses as opportunities for bettering myself. Mistakes only mean one thing-- that change is possible, and where change is possible, life will always be beautiful.
The lights are turned off. It is time for bed. Morgan beside me is already softly snoring. I close my eyes and begin my gratitude prayers. "I am thankful for my boys, their good health, their milestones reached. I am thankful for the conversation I had with a dear friend this afternoon..." And then in the darkness of our room, I hear Andro say, "Good night Garret, I love you." Garret responds almost immediately, a giggle in his throat, " I yuv yoo." My heart soars. This right here is what is important. This right here is goodness manifested in my life.

"What you focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness of your life, you create more of it." - Oprah Winfrey

Monday, June 1, 2015

Our Truth

For the first time Morgan notices the mark on the skin of my ribcage. He leans forward and kisses the letters. I am not sure he understands that it is his name and his brother's.

We walk holding hands and he feels the torn calluses in my palms. Scars from the past week's barbell work. He looks at me and smiles. I would like to think he wonders what and who they are for.

When he was born I remember how I cried in utter joy as I saw him screaming his lungs out. The doctor had to wipe the tears flowing down my cheeks.

Three years after, he was diagnosed with autism as his older brother, Garret had been, three years earlier. I remember falling on my knees, all the strength drained out of me, asking the Universe, "Why?"

What kind of life will they live? Will they ever understand the depth of my love for them? Will they ever know who I am? Will I be the mother they so rightly deserve? These were just few of the numerous questions that besieged my heart.

When Typhoon Haiyan struck I held Morgan in the tightest way possible, my heart beating out of my chest as we ran from room to room, our ceilings falling one after another. I could carry only him. Garret had to be carried by our help. Their papa leading the way, clearing the path as best as he could so we could evacuate safely.  When we were safely settled in our neighbor's house, Morgan fell asleep in exhaustion.

A few months after Haiyan we began to slowly recover from the tragedy. I decided to have my boys' names permanently inked on my  body.

A year and almost seven months passed today.

For the first time Morgan notices the mark on the skin of my ribcage. He leans forward and kisses the letters. 

After surviving Haiyan, I decided to redo my life. I decided to become healthier and stronger not only for myself but most especially for my boys. I decided to do CrossFit.

Morgan holds my hands and  feels the torn calluses in my palms. Scars from the past week's barbell work. He looks at me and  he smiles.

Questions still come thundering. The answers do not. But they arrive at the most unexpected moments catching me off guard. The answers are as subtle as the song of the sparrows in our backyard waking me in the morning. They have been there for a long time even returning after Haiyan but I have been so used to their everyday singing that I have allowed noises of doubt and confusion to drown out their music. The answers have been in front of me all along.

Time and again  I have to return to my core and trust these truths:

Life for my boys will be beautiful as it already is today.

They know how deeply I love them maybe not in the few words they can say but more so in the glances full of understanding, in the meaningful grins, in the unasked kisses and in the most unexpected embraces.

They know I am their mama in the many unique ways they say my name.

I may not be the perfect mother but I am the best one for them.

But the most beautiful truth of all is that even as I may be besieged by  more questions in the coming days, months and years, even as I continue to ask "why?" especially during the more difficult moments, even as I may fall on my knees a hundred more times,  I am overcome and redeemed even more by the love I have been given by the Universe through the very nature of their beings, by the love they teach me every single day without fail.  

This photo was taken a week after Morgan was born. Garret was 3 years old. And I was bursting at the seams from the all the mama weight AND the love pouring forth for my boys.