Monday, March 5, 2012
If every there was a blog-worthy event in our tumultuous journey of having a daughter with significant special needs, it is this one. Only it wasn't ONE event. It was NINETEEN of them, all wrapped up with hearts and bows to share a simple message of love and support. For 19 glorious days, our friends came together (behind our backs and without us knowing) and delivered daily anonymous gifts of love. We got sweets, treats, gift cards, LOTS of wine, beer, snacks, decor, candles, toys, plants and most importantly... precious messages of love, kindness, unity, and friendship.
Within any two or three week period in our family life, there is always plenty of stress, drama, laughter, sadness, good news, bad news, and usually, several visits to doctors, specialists, therapists and so on. Those 19 days were no exception, and the daily reminder that we are not alone, and that we are loved lifted us up, and brought so much joy and fun to each and every day. We will hold the experience in our hearts forever, and we can never thank you all enough for showering us with such attention and heartfelt tenderness.
I think it is often the case that friends and loved ones have no idea what to do for a friend in a situation such as ours. If your neighbor has cancer, you help them through their treatment, cook them dinner, etc. When your friend or loved one has a child with a lifelong disability, then what?
When Avery was a babbling, social, connected infant, we learned she had Mastocytosis. So we grieved the loss of our healthy baby as we knew her disease had no cure, and was starting to infiltrate many of her organs. When she regressed and spiraled from a "normal" baby to one with both Masto AND Autism (a result of neuro inflammation), we grieved again as we had lost the dreams we had for her and our family. It was the absolute darkest time of my life as I realized the limitations Autism imparts. Then lately, as our sweet daughter gets older, we find ourselves grieving yet again. To me,initially, Autism meant that, though she would be limited, she would still surely make progress, learn to talk, learn to go potty, turn on the faucet to wash her hands, and so on. So here we are, four years after diagnosis, and Avery's skills are still pretty much the same. She can't run, jump, or follow instructions. She is still non-verbal- and now doesn't even babble at all- she is still in diapers, we still have to feed her, wake up every night with her, dress her, bathe her and meet her every single need 24/7. Despite tens of thousands of dollars spent on therapy, lots of time, prayers, hope... here we are. In the same place. Stuck. Scared. Sad. But now we know for sure, that we are NOT alone.
Three weeks ago I was at an all time high on the stress meter. I am working again, which I love, but with that, and the post MS degree classes I am taking for yet another certification... plus my three monkeys, plus ALL of Avery's therapy, plus some new health issues for me and a close family member... and I was IN OVERLOAD. Someone knew that. Someone organized an amazing output of love for us. And to that someone I say again... thank you. Thanks for the reminder that life is really all about our relationships, and that love really can conquer lots of broken dreams, anxious feelings and agonizing fears.
My heart is full and my life is enriched beyond measure. Day by day, I am learning to change my perspective and let go of the circumstances I cannot change. Minute by minute I am trying to ease the sadness that still grips my soul. I may never ever "get over" Avery having to struggle with every simple thing, but I will love her and care for her day in and day out... and pay forward all the encouragement you have bestowed to me. What a gift of grace.