There has been a mistake, that’s all. And he will be coming back through my door again. With that sideways grin of his. A soft “hey..” And he will first head to the kitchen, as he often did. Then come sit down on the floor next to me, play with his favorite dog, Josie. I will ask about his day And he will say “good” A plain response, and so commonly uttered by him. And I would nod, and smile. A few moments with the dog, and some laughter before he went on to tell me how he tackled his day. I was so proud of him. He could do hard things and be great at it. He was just learning this at 19.
We had him tested in 8th grade. We, as in his Dad, his wife, and then me. Wait, let me write that again. We, as in his wife, his dad, then me. It was all…..I do not want to even get into all that. At any rate, my son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Coupled with Anxiety, and ADHD.
I say he was barely on the spectrum. He did have certain aspects of it as in, Stimming. Which is something done when trying to comfort yourself or trying to handle a very intense moment. I say we all do the stimming on different levels. Like things, we do out of habit that comforts us in times of stress. Like, Pacing. Rubbing hands on your thighs, singing, coloring.
Him? It was at first the bridge of his nose, he would rub either side of it with both hands at the same time. This started when he was two. And continued to do it until junior high. And when the kids at school started to notice, he then moved to play ing with his bangs. Sometimes his bangs would stand straight out from all the tugging and winding of his fingers through it.
And the other thing? He had a very difficult time with being social. Small talk was a concept he did not understand. I had to learn small talk myself, so I understood. He did not like social situations, and would rather slink away into the shadows. Watching him at family functions, always made me feel anxious and sad for him. I understood his heart. And it killed me that he knew that he looked awkward, out of place. Perched at the edge of his seat, ready to run.
So, when he told me about his day at work. He was beaming from ear to ear. And he had made a friend that he liked as well. It made my heart swell with pride and love. “See..” I would say to him “You can do hard things.” And he would be beaming from ear to ear “Yea..”
And let me briefly touch on why, this was such a beautiful moment.
My husband and I were out driving late in the Bronco. And he piped up from the dark of the back seat with this question “You think with this Autism thing, you think it will get in my way?” Graduation was coming up for him, so I know with his Anxiety, he was worried about the future. I replied “Caleb, it will only get in the way if you let it…” A soft “yea.” came his reply.
Not only could he do hard things. He also performed at the top level. And was getting praises from the upper ups. And, he made a new friend.
Now with the sudden silence from his departure in this life, that I am now living. I need to tell myself.
“You can do hard things…”
And I know he would be replying to me, softy, with that adorable smirk of his