Like all parents (well the vast majority anyway) I do, of course, love all of my children. Through the all night screaming (theirs not mine), toddler tantrums, the teenage angst and now, the wedding planning jitters it goes without saying that my love for each of them is unwavering.
But there is something different in the way I feel about Gabriel. Gabriel was diagnosed with Autism last year, just before his 3rd birthday. He speaks very rarely, and when he does, it is usually in single words that are difficult for others to understand. Mostly, he grunts and tries to communicate through gestures as best he can. As you can imagine, this is incredibly frustrating for him and those of who care for him. It’s pretty much the same as the frustration you feel when your two month-old baby is screaming the place down & nothing you try can soothe her. The difference is that this little fella has more sophisticated wants and needs so the simple food, diaper, sleep checklist just doesn’t cut it anymore.
But I digress…This evening I looked across at my husband, sitting on the sofa, with Gabe on his lap and I was completely overwhelmed with feeling. Some of it was the fear for what Gabe’s quality of life will be like when he is older, some of it was sadness, knowing that he will probably never have the most precious experience of spending your life with the one you love & raising a family together.
But most of all I was overwhelmed by the love I feel for him. The heart-bursting joy that his smile brings to me. The way in which we don’t always need words because on the rare occasions he makes eye contact those beautiful blue eyes convey volumes. The pleasure we get from the times he shouts “NO” – even if it is at bedtime- cannot be adequately put into words. His two-year-old sister can recite the alphabet, count way past twenty, knows all her shapes and colours but she’ll never get a round of applause because she roared when a lion came on the TV.
The excitement he generates on those occasions he does communicate, it’s like your little ones first word all over again. I cannot look at him without smiling and feeling that protective catch in my chest, just like the first time I held him.
He will always need us here to look after him, but that also means that we will always have him here with us. I feel blessed to have our autistic son because we will always have that innocence, that unconditional love in our home and what better thought to have on a day to celebrate love.
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