The last several years at this time in December I've thought about our year and what it brought. Each filled with challenges and triumphs and lessons of life that I've been very thankful for. In time.
In October, one of our children was diagnosed with Autism. And actually, once we reached the diagnosis, it was an incredible sense of relief - a name, a focus, an answer, a beginning.
But getting there was a gut-wrenching journey that plummeted us all into a very depressing and heartbreaking place. What can a family do when your loved one is suffering and you don't know why?
Looking back, I've had to work through the regrets. I wished I had understood the signs. I wished that when I looked into autism that I had dug deeper, rather than being thrown off by what I'd initially read. I wished that we had known so we could have done things differently. So our child wouldn't have had to suffer so much. And each time we thought we knew what we were dealing with, we wouldn't have been set back even farther than before. Two steps forward, five steps back.
The greatest gift in all of this, of course, is the diagnosis. Knowing what we're dealing with and getting help. And there have been more lessons learned than I'd have chosen, if given a choice. But I wasn't, and that's the way it is.
Some things I've been reminded of and some wisdom I've gained along the way:
- The importance of a good marriage really presents itself is when you're faced with hardship. I'm eternally grateful for Colin.
- You never really know someone's story. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. Even something as simple as a smile. There were days when I was so broken that simple kindness made me weep.
- Trust your gut. You know your child better than anyone else.
- Find doctors who are genuinely interested in helping your child. They really do exist.
- Learn to let go of regrets. Regret is like poison.
- Don't waste time on negativity. Move on.
- Be open to true friendship. Friends are a gift.
- Nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems in the moment. ~John F. Kennedy Jr.
- Be strong. It sounds simple, but taking on the role of Parent means you must be the rock, no matter how hard life can be. You owe it to your child, you owe it to the world.
As I look back on this year, it's best described as a year of healing and hope. No, it hasn't been easy, but whose life is, really? There are so many people facing challenges of their own and that's something that's easily lost sight of when you're suffering. For you, for me, for anyone who is suffering, I choose hope.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.