Last week was bulk pick up time and I threw away the baby table. Ok. It wasn’t exactly the baby table. It was more like a preschool table. But it had definitely overstayed its welcome in my home. That table was actually one of the most important pieces of furniture in my house. My son, Jack, sat at that table with me and his therapists for tens of thousands of hours over the past 13 years. That table and those chairs were way too small for his 15 year old gangly arms and stretched out legs. He is taller than me and his older brother. Saying goodbye to that table was like saying good bye to the person you took for granted in your life. The person who you didn’t know you would miss until he was gone.
It isn’t that I missed the table itself. What I found myself missing for a few days was the hope it brought into my life. The possibility that my son would learn something exciting and new and his world and our world would change. I don’t think I ever thought he would suddenly stop having autism. In the early days of his diagnosis I read of children being “cured.” I hoped and prayed and dreamed for one of those miracles. Looking back, I realize that prayer was kind of a prayer asking that he not be who he was any longer. Isn’t that really what I was asking for? I can admit that to myself now. In a way, I was wishing him away and wanting him to be replaced by the child I thought I was supposed to have. I was so focused on getting more and more therapy for him so he would become someone else.
This is not an easy thing for a mother to admit. You might think you understand this. Of course, who would not want their autistic child to get better? But my wishing took me away from the moment of enjoying Jack and being truly present with him. If there is regret, it is that I spent too much time hoping for a miracle and not enjoying the miracle right in front of my eyes.
Jack has grown a lot through the years, sitting at that table with his therapists. He was able to learn. He still does not speak, but tries unbelievably hard to do so and thanks to Steve Jobs can use his iPad to communicate with the people in his world. He doesn’t tie his shoes, but can find them and get them on. He can’t tell me what the day is of the week, but he knows the days his father is coming to see him and he waits by the window for him. He loves to staple and sort and has surprised us with his office type skills. He is smart and loves with his whole heart. He is amazing and has the face of an angel, or so I have been told.
I mentioned there was a miracle in front of my eyes and yes, he is a miracle. But that is not the miracle I was talking about. There was a miracle happening at that table every time he sat down. I watched love grow at that table as each therapist fell in love with the little boy who will never grow up. Each therapist grew in amazing ways because of their connection to Jack. Most of them chose to remain in the field of working with kids with developmental disabilities, for those that did not I know they are true advocates for these kids and that they have forever been changed because of Jack. He has actually touched more people’s lives than I will ever know because each one of the therapists he trained is out there sharing his love. I believe they are better people for having been part of Jack’s life.
I am so glad I have learned to stay more present in the moment. It has given me not only a new perspective on Jack, but on life. Sometimes when we wait for a miracle, we miss the one in front of us. So if you think life would be better if you…(lost weight, got healthy, got a better job, or fill in the blank here for whatever it is you want)…think about how amazing life is right now. I guarantee there is something today that is right in front of you that is already changing your world for the better. I don’t miss the table. I watched the pickup truck pull up in front of my house and watched a man load up the table and chairs in the back. It was definitely time to get up from the table and push our miracle out into the world.