The blessing of my son’s birth unlocked a love so engaging, so inexplicable, so unconditionally yielding – like the infinite ends of the Pacific or the welcoming morning rays dawning a new day, a new beginning…MY FIRST BORN! Blanketed in baby-bliss, I enjoyed every moment as a new mom. Duane was alert, playful and smart. He loved the Spongebob theme song, crawled at 8 months, walked at 10 months, spoke his first words around 1 year and overall was a happy, happy character with a smile that would light up any room. It was around 18-22 months that my motherly instinct tapped me on the shoulder with a feeling of fuzziness and concern. I had begun to notice that Duane’s interaction and social savviness had flipped inward. He played to himself more and had become overly engaged with spinning, motion toys and repetitive play. Looking closer, I realized his speech was no longer developing…actually he was regressing, not even uttering the few words he previously had in his vocabulary. Another concern was Duane’s tendency to cry uncontrollably whenever we would go out to visit family, dinner at a restaurant or any unfamiliar places. I vividly remember an episode where he held onto the molding of the door, crying profusely, signifying he didn’t want to leave the house. My light-bulb moment came when one day I was at a friend’s house getting my hair done. She has a son who is exactly 6 months younger than my son. He oftentimes played near as she did my hair and in a playful manner, I one day licked my tongue out at him and he returned the gesture by doing the same. I immediately thought to myself, “Pooter (my son’s nickname) wouldn’t have done that.” I later learned that this was called “reciprocal” behavior of which my son at the time had yet to develop. Ironically, a few weeks later, I was enjoying a cup of tea while partaking in my morning ritual of watching the Today Show and a story came on about Autism. My son didn’t actually exhibit the more pronounced symptoms such as flapping, biting or head-banging, but the delayed development and loss of speech portion of the report prompted me to think that this condition deserved some attention; or at minimum encouraged me to have my son checked out. The clinic featured in the Today piece was located right in my area in Grosse Pointe, MI so I thought why not take him there. It was a speech therapy facility and seemed to make sense. The therapist gave us an assessment of PDD-NOS (a milder form of autism) but was unable to legally diagnose him because she was not an actual physician. She referred us Dr. Richard Solomon in Ann Arbor, MI where he gave my son a diagnosis of Autism (mild). And there the journey began.
While the diagnosis was heartbreaking and consumes a large part of my life, I remain encouraged and prayerful that my son will defeat Autism. And as his mother, I’m willing to do any and everything to help him but the one thing I’m not willing to do is NOTHING! And during my quest for answers, advocacy, and direction, I happened across the following poem and wanted to share it for encouragement, comfort and purpose. And thus, you shall understand my motivation. ENJOY!
Not too long ago in Heaven there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there and often expressed this joy with God. One day however the little soul was sad, for on this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked, “Why do bad things happen; why is there suffering in the world?”
God paused for a moment and replied, “Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see, unlocks the love in people’s hearts.” The little soul was confused. “What do you mean,” he asked. God replied, “Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their other motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone.”
The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued, “The suffering soul unlocks the love in people’s hearts much like the sun and the rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this – it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer – to unlock this love – to create this miracle for the good of all humanity.”
Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied. “I am brave; let me go! I would like to go into the world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people’s hearts! I want to create that miracle!”
God smiled and said, “You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this and so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. Those souls will help you create your miracle; however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you”. God and the brave soul shared a smile, and then embraced.
In parting, God said, “Do not forget little soul that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel that you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought, and you will be healed.” Thus at that moment the brave little soul was born into the world, and through his suffering and God’s strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people’s hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love.