In the beginning, the Earth stood still. Everything hung suspended in time; the words fell from her lips in slow motion…
“Her behaviors are consistent with those we’d find in a child who has Autism.”
In the beginning, I could hear nothing else. Doctors, specialists, and therapists spoke to me in depth about her diagnosis. All I could hear were those words: “…a child who has Autism.”
In the beginning, I didn’t sleep. Neither did she. In between nighttime meltdowns, I’d lay awake, drowning in “what ifs”. I hadn’t yet learned to take it one day, one moment, at a time.
In the beginning, I pretended to be stronger than I was. I wasn’t about to let anyone know how terrified, overwhelmed, exhausted, confused, depressed, worried, or heartbroken I was. I wanted them to know I could handle this. Inside, I didn’t know if I could.
In the beginning, I felt completely and utterly alone. I had been taken from the world I was once a part of, and dropped into a place that no one I knew had been to. A place no one around me understood.
In the beginning, I couldn’t find the words to pray. Countless times I’d fall to my knees in tears…but the words didn’t come. I didn’t know where to begin. The pain in my heart was too deep to express. The questions, too hard to ask.
In the beginning, I was overcome by helplessness. I wasn’t equipped to handle her suffering. I didn’t understand anything about her world. Her struggles took over my every thought and, despite giving it all I had, there was no way for me to reach her.
In the beginning, it felt like the end. The end of hopes and dreams. The end of a relationship I’d had mapped out in my mind. The end of myself as a mother who had at least some idea of what I was doing. The end of smiles and laughter that weren’t hiding some kind of pain. The end of a “normal” family. The end of a “normal” life.
If this is your beginning, take heart…
The beginning comes to an end.
The journey may always be marked with suffering. The pain comes and goes, hits you out of nowhere, and may bring you to places of deep grief. Yet, it’s because of this journey that your life will be marked by an even deeper joy. “Normal” will come. It will look different than you had imagined, but it will come. You will cherish the little things. You won’t take for granted what used to pass you by. Though one world has seemingly left you behind, a new one will be opened up to you. You will realize that, somewhere inside, you have always been the kind of parent your child needs. You will learn that there is a purpose. One that makes all of the tears and the sleepless nights worth it. You may not be given full understanding of His plan on this side of Heaven, but God will give you glimpses of it through your child that will leave you breathless.
Hold on. Have faith. Trust Him when He tells you, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” (John 13:7) Know in your heart that you are not alone. Remember that God is in control and, though many things may change, the most important remain the same…
She is still your child. You are still her mother. That bond will never be broken. That love endures forever…beginning to end.