Monday, July 27, 2009
Of This I Have No Doubt
The thoughts keep spilling out of me. What should my first line be? There are so many directions I could have this blog take. Mainly, I want the world to know how amazing my sister is. She is a mother to a boy, age nine. This boy is not your normal son. He never quite makes eye-contact. His words and phrases are robotic, repeated.
I watched him the other day make his way through my house. He enters the backdoor. He has a certain window he always opens. He heads next to my cracker stash, maybe gets some sour cream for taste. Then he goes upstairs to use the bathroom, his preference, and then he always ends up in the back bedroom where he rolls and frolics in the bed covers. I went to see what he was up to, and there he was, his little 9-year-old frame standing up on my hope chest, with the comforter hanging from his body like a Christmas pageant Shepard. He was smiles and laughter. "OK, come here. Jump! It'll be fun." He thought it was.
The older he gets the more odd he seems. He is autistic to the core. Classic autism. As time progresses it gets harder and harder to be his caregiver, and yet my sister does it with grace and dignity.
She gets frustrated by all the information out there on how to "heal" your child of autism, the therapies, the foods/diets etc. Where are the resources for those who are living with autism? Our pastor was talking about true character, that when hard times come the true character gets squeezed out like a sponge. Her character is squeezed out on a daily, constant basis. There is never a break.
On top of being autistic, he has Pica, so he eats everything and anything. It is like he is sensing his world through taste. The other day he was doing this to a brick in their backyard. Nothing is truly safe. He's tasted her furniture, her piano, dirt, the sandbox, toothbrushes, wood chips, paper clips....
She keeps doing what she does, loving and parenting. She's the first to admit she's not perfect. She has her moments when she cries to God and asks why. When she doesn't want to do it anymore, but she does. (Didn't Christ even do this in the Garden?)
She is a woman of amazing character. I think her reward in heaven should be great, and it will be; she looks forward to the day when her son can relate and be made perfect. She has no doubts that he will be in heaven with her someday, even if he never utters a prayer. I have no doubts either.
I told her that 100 years ago people would have seen him and labeled him the crazy child, the wild child. Most likely he would have been put away somewhere.
She said that at times you feel like inside there is no one, but then you look into his eyes and you can see his soul. This is true.
I've never cried about my nephew. We knew from a very young age that something was not right. He was less than a year old when we all noticed he wasn't hitting major developmental markers. Even as an infant, when you held him, he seemed distant and removed.
I finally cried the other day. I realized that I loved him. He is part of my family. He is my sister's son, and I grieved the loss of not really getting a normal connection with him. I think I have kept my emotional distance as a way of coping.
That is what every parent lives for, connection. That is why we all get so giddy when we see our baby's first smile. When they talk. When they ask us questions. When they tell us their stories.
This never will happen for my sister, although she does say there is a unique bond between the two of them.
I am completely humbled by her. She may be a mere 21 months older than me, but she is an old soul and a mentor to me as a mother. I love her dearly, and so wish I could fix or change her burden, but I can't. I can listen. I can sympathize. I can be encouraged in Christ as I watch her live.
We often hear people say that they feel God calling them to the mission field, teaching, nursing, politics, volunteerism, but you never hear a mother say, "I think God is calling me to give birth to a special needs child." No, instead we pray for a healthy baby.
Yet, I have always heard the heart of my sister say, "Your will Lord." Always.
Of this I have no doubt.