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The Present is a Gift

Halloween 2014 074

I stand in front of the stove flipping eggs, thrilled for once to be cooking because this endeavor means my eldest autistic son is eating breakfast again for the first time in months, and I couldn’t be happier. Since my son has a religious adherence to carbs I’ve tried every food imaginable, from French toast ( a disaster I take the blame for) to six kinds of waffles, and he wanted nothing to do with any of it. I hear his happy “eee” sounds behind me as I flip my scrambled concoction one more time, then feel a warm hand on my shoulder.

I turn around, and Justin plants his hands on either side of my face, looks at me intently and bestows a big kiss on my lips. I watch his own form what I lovingly call the “thin red line of satisfaction,” see him glance at his eggs and smile, then hurry to his seat.

I slide yellow warmth onto our two plates, then hesistate a moment as a memory is triggered. I recall a time ten years ago when Justin was recently diagnosed, how the internet told me my son would have no eye contact, little engagement, perhaps never show me a shred of affection.

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I let my mind wander back to that sweet kiss.

I think about how much of what I read was wrong. How despite the web’s dire warnings my son reads, looks at me, loves. For the thousandth moment I wish I could time travel a decade and let my former terrified and harried self know that developing at his own pace would be more that okay- that he would be the delight of my life, a spot shared only with his younger brother, who happens to be autistic too.

I take a moment to remind myself how much has changed in ten years, because in just one more decade I’ll be facing down his adulthood, which if I’m honest, frightens me even now.

And yet, on a cold morning there is a random kiss of gratitude, his way of connecting with me from which I never tire. I don’t know what the future holds in store for Justin, but I do know this.

Ten years ago, in the midst of labels, meltdowns, insomnia, and just ‘sad,” I would never have imagined our lives would turn out like this- predominantly filled with contentment, gratitude, and unabashed love.

And I make a promise to myself the next time I worry about ten years down the road to remember this moment, focus on the present, and have some faith.

For more on my family visit my blog at

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