I Wish…….

She stands a few feet from them, close to her teammates but not a part of the group. She is getting ready to run.  This is the last cross-country meet of the year. As the rest of the girls line up, she is pushed to the back of the line. She doesn’t get upset; this is where she always starts. This is the position she always gets pushed back to, not only in races, but also in life. This is what happens when you are Autistic.

The starter gun fires and they are off. She is quickly left behind, not last but close. What are her thoughts I wonder. Does she even realize she is far behind? Does she care? I do. I care. Sometimes I want her to win so desperately that it is almost a physical hurt. I want her to win to show them, the ones who push her to the back of life.  I want her to win to show them she has worth, that she is more than someone to thrust aside without thought.

The races are longer this year, a mile more. Now she must run 3 miles. She practices every morning at 6. I know that the coaches wonder why some days she even shows up. It’s not that she complains, it’s that she often runs so slow it appears she is walking. I frequently wonder why she does it. But get up a 5:30 she does and after some grumbling about being tired she is on her way out the door.  When I ask her do you want to quit, she always gives me the same response – No.

As the race continues she runs out of my sight. This always makes me a little nervous because she can get lost easily. I am calmed by the fact that a golf cart follows the last girls till they finish the race. My prerace ritual is to tell her to follow the girls in front of her and try to pass them if she can. I remind her that this day is not about winning, but doing your best. To run as fast as YOU can.  And then much to my shame, I tell her try not to be last, as if her running in itself isn’t a miracle.

For Emma, finishing is the victory and most people don’t even know it. Imagine this if you will for a moment, you are running a race and not quite sure which way to go. You watch as those girls you were told to follow get farther and farther from you. You hear in the distance people cheering at the finish line but when you get there, because you ran slowly, everybody has left and the only person cheering for you is Mom. And because your Mom told you to, you don’t come in last, you beat one girl.

As she runs across the finish line, I wish I didn’t have the thought that I wish she did better. But I do. I quickly push that thought aside remembering the victory is crossing the line.

I wish people could see what I see when she runs. Sure it’s wonderful to win and it takes hard work and courage to get there. I think it’s easier to run when you win.  Think about this, you live life on the outside, part of a team, accepted but not included. You finish most races last. And yet you still run. Why do you do this? Because you love to run and it doesn’t matter if everyone says you are not fast enough or good enough. You know you are.

Now, my Emma will never be famous for running, but in her own way she is reaching her potential, pushing her self farther (3 miles this year) everyday. She wants to become a great runner. She tells me this all the time. She doesn’t realize she already is.

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Unfiltered?

How do you view the world? I have often thought that the way my daughter views the world is refreshing. She says the things that we wish we could say, she has no filter.  For example, one time she was sitting in class and the class was boring to her. And when I say that, I mean it was hard for her to understand, so as she was listening she said out loud blah, blah, blah, blah. How many of us wish we could have said that at sometime during our life?

How great would it be if we had no filter? If we could have an excuse for all the things we said like, I’m sorry but I’m Autistic.

If you could be excused for all the things you said, what would you say?

In some ways I envy her, I wish I could say things I know I would be excused for. Things I wish I could say to people I know and even perhaps, the people I love. Having a disability excuses you for much.

How would that change our relationships, if we really said what we felt?  Not that what we said had the intent to hurt, but, without filter, to say what we really thought.

To say, no I don’t like your haircut, or your pants make you look fat. Is that mean? We ask our friends to tell us the truth, but like the famous words from a movie, “You can’t handle the truth.”

I never, I want to repeat never, want to hurt anybody, and like any good person I tell white lies. Yes, these cookies are great. Yes, your hair looks great. But sometimes I wish I could, without care, say what I think. Like, what were you thinking doing that with your hair? Do YOU think it looks good?

I have learned over the years that when people ask your opinion on something more often than not, they want you to agree with them, to validate what they are feeling.

I will continue to tell white lies, because that’s the right thing to do, the loving thing to do. But if I am ever in an alternative universe, I just might say what I REALLY feel.

Wistful

I am wistful today. I am pondering what might have been. Sounds maudlin doesn’t it? Those who know me would tell you that is not a feeling they would associate with me and they would be right.  I don’t live in the past; it does no good to live there. But I must confess I am visiting today.

It is my daughter’s seventeenth birthday and as I celebrate this day with her it reminds me that her Dad is not here to celebrate with us. He passed away when she was 12 days old.  As I look at her I see him and wish he could see the wonderful young lady she is becoming. That’s where the wistful part comes in. I wonder how my children feel not growing up with their Dad. Of course there was nothing I could do about that, but still I wonder if I filled some of the hole he left.

How would our lives have been different? Would I have been a different parent, a different person? I think I would have been very different. I would have been a softer person, not so controlling, perhaps not so blunt. What kind of parent would he have been?  I like to think he would have been wonderful.

I have moved on. Moving on is something I believe in, not getting lost in what might have been, and in the moving on, I have left my husband behind. This too makes me wistful. But only for the moment, only for today, for I have built a whole other life. A happy life, a life full of love and promise.

I have found someone who loves me, someone I can love. My children are wonderfully happy and unique people. So on this day when I am wistful, I will think about all the great things that I have been blessed with and perhaps it will lighten the sting of the past. Isn’t that how we get through things? Looking toward the future? Making our life all about the blessings instead of the heartache?

I sit here for a moment glancing at the past, now that moment is gone and I move with confidence toward my future, pushing back the wistfulness where it belongs – in the past.