When the pediatrician, at the boy’s two-year check-up, said to us, you’ll probably need to have him checked for autism, I wasn’t thankful.
Since this is a family blog, I’ll refrain from being frank with my language. Suffice it to say there was a rageful fear that stole over me in those moments. Followed rapidly by a little over two-million, one-hundred and two-thousand, four hundred other moments that were, to a varying degree, just like those first.
Fear of the future.
Rage for the disconnected now.
Fear of the hobbled hopes.
Rage at the ceaseless struggle to understand.
Fear at the thought that I never would.
There was little time for other as we rushed to find a way to help him. Knowing that every day he waits for a breakthrough is like three for another kid, we were rushing, raging against the fog of autism.
But there are clearings and breakthroughs. There is connection. There are times when the boy looks me in the eye and says, “I love you.” And the rageful fear fades.
For that and for so much else, I’m thankful.
I’m thankful that I’m learning to listen, really truly listen. My ears seek out the smallest syllable, the quietest question whispered in the middle of the night. And when it comes, I’m screaming for joy in my heart waiting for the next.
I’m thankful that I’m learning to live in the moment. To play when we’re playing. To climb when we’re climbing. To laugh when we’re laughing, and we laugh–he and I–often and loudly. To cry when we’re crying because we can’t connect. To lock eyes before we lock hands as we run to play.
I’m thankful for the community we’ve found and the friends, old and new, who just get it. There was a time when my off the scale introversion didn’t worry about losing a friend; I was foolish in my youth. As the boy’s friends have taught me, true friendship opens whole new worlds to explore and to love.
But mostly I’m thankful for this beautiful boy who bounces without reservation, who shouts with joy without concern, and who loves without shame. Despite the fog and the rage and the fear, I’m thankful for who my boy is.
I’m a blessed dad.