Thursday, November 12, 2009
Bittersweet Trick or Treat
I didn't expect to feel any particular wave of emotion on... Halloween. It's halloween for crying out loud, not thanksgiving where I can surely be expected to get a little teary eyed when I count my blessings or Christmas when I celebrate in the comfort of family and friends. So why on earth, might you ask, did that woman start crying right before her 18 month old knocked on the first door and quickly hold out her pumpkin bag saying "treat please!" Why the tears on a silly, carefree, seemingly harmless holiday? Well, for the first time, I saw the joy of a holiday in my child's eyes. I witnessed her light up when someone gave her candy, eat it with a big messy smile, and understand how to participate in the festivities. I am both happy and sad to say... it was a first for us. So the tears I shed were both tears of sorrow and tears of joy all blended into one blubbering mess of a mom. I got it together after I had a moment, and I am pretty sure no one was aware of my heartache.... but nonetheless, it was yet another lesson learned for me.
I try really hard to convince myself and everyone who knows me that this is all something I can handle. That having a special needs child is a blessing, and that it is her abilities that matter the most and not her disability. That Autism will not define her. And I really do believe that, but I would be a bonafide liar if I told you that I didn't take pause every now and then and realize the sadness of it all. That I didn't see the time lost, the stolen victories and the despair in certain truths. There are certainly times when I hate Autism and what it has done to my daughter, while in almost the same breath I can tell you how much better I am because of it. And of how Avery brings more light and joy to my heart than you can imagine. It is manic in every sense of the word.
So what am I to do with all of this? How am I supposed to compartmentalize my feelings and somehow make sense of them? I wish I had the answers. I don't, but there ARE a few things I know for sure.
I know that Avery IS special, and in her own totally different, fiesty and colorful way, so is Kaylin. I CAN celebrate each of them for who they are, and for what they CAN do and understand. I am allowed to be sad every now and then when I realize how incredible impaired Avery is, especially in comparison to her sister.... and it is also useless and idiotic to ever compare them. We are all better because of heartache... doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. My own personal happiness cannot come from anywhere or anyone other than from within. I have to work at it, and I really can alter the way I think and perceive. I can choose to be content. I can survive despair, and overcome it kicking and screaming. I can live in love, and wake up every morning and be grateful. It's up to me. It cannot be dependent on someone or something else.
I guess I am writing all of this as a lesson in self discovery. A lesson I am gradually, albeit, very slowly, beginning to understand. I really do "get" the big picture, but in the day to day stuff I sometimes have a harder time. I worry WAY too much, lose my patience more than I care to admit, and have tiny moments when I want to hide in the pantry. But if I step back, away from it all for just a second, I can ground myself again. I can gain a better and brighter perspective, and move onward. I have to remind myself all the time that this is a lifetime thing.... and it's a life I love.
My precious daughters were both butterflies this year for halloween. It may be the last year I get to choose a costume for Kaylin, as I am sure she will have an opinion from now on, but this year she truly loved it. She saw herself in the mirror and was beyond enamored. She left her "hood" on for 4 hours... and was totally in her element. It was beautiful. Avery was also glorious in her own right. She may not "get" it, but I think her costume was totally fitting because, like a butterfly who can fly way up in the air, Avery has a different perspective, and gives us a different perspective as well. She adds color and love to our lives, and dances to her own beautiful beat. I wouldn't trade my two butterflies for anything in the world, even with the unique set of challenges they may bring with them on their journey.
Even though halloween has come and gone, the memories we were able to create this year remain, and the days and hours we have with each other continue to enrich our lives and give us meaning and purpose. So with that, I wish you all a joyous fall, and hope that each of you are able to see the gifts you have in your life... and be serene.