Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tactile memories

It's funny how tactile memories work.  I drove a route tonight that I have not driven since before we received Caleb's diagnosis, and I am still sorting through my emotions.

For just shy of the first two years of my little boy's life, I drove the same roads, every day, bringing him and his brother to their sitter so that I could go to work.  I have crystal clear memories of this time - of the very first day that I brought him, rationalizing that since I had been through this before with my first, this time it would be easier to leave.  It would be silly to cry.  Then I remember coming to the realization that my inner logic was a big fat liar, and crying almost the entire drive in.

I remember driving that route and glancing in the rear view mirror in those early days, marveling that now there were TWO little people back there that belonged to me, where just weeks before there had been only one.  As I soaked in the sight of those boys, I envisioned their future, and could hardly wait to watch them grow, filled with plans and dreams of what their lives would be like.

Then I remember traveling those roads, eyes blurry and throat tight with tears, thinking maybe it wasn't the best idea I ever had to decide to drive the day that I had to say The Word for the first time.  I had just finished choking out "Autism" to his sitter, trying to force the sound of it out of stiff lips, attempting to explain to her what I had yet to understand myself.  Unable to make eye contact, because the thought of seeing pity on her face was crippling to me.

As I drove those roads again tonight, I felt an odd sense of grief, feeling the presence of the ghost of that former self of mine.  Looking back at how hectic I thought my life was at the time, I can't help but wish that I could be as carefree now as I was when I only thought my life was hard.

It's getting more difficult as he gets older.  Tonight there was a little girl there at that gathering, just weeks older than my boy, and looking at her almost physically hurt.  She was bright, she was bubbly, she was beautiful; but how to explain that every sentence she uttered made me catch my breath at the realization that the gap - that horrible, yawning gap - was widening?  Every day, something my baby does that is a huge accomplishment for him becomes more and more commonplace for his peers.  Skills he lacks that before could be attributed to youth become more glaring as he ages.  Speech is now old hat for that bright, effervescent angel, and she is moving on--leaving my little man in her wake.  He is improving, day by day, but will that ever be enough?  I know he has to travel his own path, and that path is not mine to map for him, but it's so hard to let go, to not be able to "fix" this for him.

So I resolve to take a deep gulp of air, and catch my breath, one more time.  To start over tomorrow.


  1. just wanted you to know i understand. i know that physical ache. i think a bit of that ache always remains. but you will appreciate him even more than you do today for the special, tenacious, wonderful way he travels his own path. stay strong, mama.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment. I read your blog and always enjoy it. It's great to know there are so many supportive mamas out there. :)