We always had a Christmas program. Every year, our children’s choir director, Ms. Mary Evelyn, would bestow upon us our musical. Somehow, I always ended up being Mary. I was ok with that because Mary always had a solo. Of course she did! She WAS the mother of Christ.
We rehearsed and rehearsed the musical until we had it down pat. It was fun and exciting every year. This was the beginning of my life–long passion for music. I have never completely stopped playing music. When I found out I was pregnant, a new dream began…the dream of having a child who would do these same things.
TODAY IS NOT YESTERDAY
Today, our church had the children’s choir sing. I sat and watched the children of our church sing and speak lines they had memorized. They did a fantastic job. But, as I sat there, my heart felt sadness I could not stop. It was running water of sadness that enveloped my whole being: my son was not part of this choir. I realized: My dreams of parenthood were completely squashed. Totally torn down the bone, and then, the bones of these dreams were pulverized. My son could not ever do what those kids did today. He cannot stand in one place, he tries to sing, but without words, he has no guideline, he cannot memorize parts, etc. He just cannot do this.
As most of you know, Asher is autistic. Amongst his myriad of autistic behavior, the most prevalent is his inability to speak. People ask, “Is he non-verbal?” No. He is verbal all right. You just cannot understand one word coming out of his mouth. He tries, though. He works so damn hard. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone work so hard for something in my life.
Our friends’ son walked to the microphone and sang his solo perfectly. I tensed.
“WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO MY CHILD?”, I asked God in an angry tone. What I felt in my spirit was frightening.
“Autumn, dear, I believe you meant to say, ‘Why did you do this to ME?’”
My entire being was silenced.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Autism, as I always say, is a disorder the whole family experiences. In this case, Asher would have been absolutely miserable in the children’s choir. The way he feels things, sees things, hears things, smells things is on high alert at all times. Though my heart would soar if I could get him involved, he would be miserable.
LIFE OR DEATH?
What happens when dreams die? I pondered this throughout the rest of the morning. It seems to me Jesus told us what happens when dreams die.
New dreams are born.
Dreams, you didn’t even know you had because they were hidden by all the fluff, are resurrected. They are deeper and far more meaningful.
After church, as I was talking with someone when I heard, “MAMA!”. I turned around to the brightest smile connected to the greatest heart I have ever known: My little boy. I picked him up and wrapped him in my arms. As he hugged me back, the agony of the death of my dream was gone.
When you are a parent of a child who has challenges (and lets face it, who is COMPLETELY different from their peers) you watch your dreams die often. In that death you find it fertilizes new dreams. Our new dreams are of our children thriving inside of their challenges and facing their fears and conquering them.
I watch my child fight his battles everyday. Sometimes, he wins. Other times, he does not. His biggest worry is not whether he has his parts memorized or whether he has his lyrics down. No. He worries he cannot get his point across. He worries if he has made someone mad or sad. As I said, he has a great heart.
NO MORE SAD TEARS
My time of tears and sadness are over. I will, again, grieve the death of my dreams. It will happen. I am not perfect. I will, again, be reminded of the new birth of new dreams. Dreams bigger and brighter than any of the other dreams I previously grieved. Why are they bigger and brighter?
Because…I see God’s love every time I look into the big blue eyes of my baby. God adores me. God ADORES him.
My son is my dream. He embodies love and kindness. This is a dream come true. This dream is life. This dream can cause real change in this groaning world.
Even though my little boy will never be “normal” (whatever that is), God says to him,
“COME AND DANCE AND PLAY! Let ALL the children come to me! And, Asher, show me that booty dance! I love that dance!”
When my dreams have died, God’s dreams have just begun. No matter what roadblocks are put in front of my boy, God says,
“You are MINE, little boy. NO ONE can separate you from me. You just be you…this is all I ask. I made you perfectly imperfect. You have a purpose, and that purpose is to love me and love everyone else.”
In all the productions and chaos and pride and societal norms and rules and regulations and fake and falsehoods and bullying and fighting, God whispers to me,
“None of that is real. If you want to see “real”, look at your son. He is mine, and through him, I shine.”