About two years ago, I called my friend M, because I was in crisis mode and I didn’t know what to do. I had suspected the worst possible scenario/diagnosis for my son and I was a crying mess. I remember hoping that it wasn’t Autism, but some sort of speech related disorder that had a name. Just not Autism. Anything but Autism.
I remember needing to talk to someone, anyone, and I felt like my friend M would understand where I was coming from. I felt like only she would know and understand how I was feeling… and I was right.
My friend M and I went to college together (as well as our husbands), and I hadn’t seen her in about five years, but I still had her phone number and I knew that she was the only one who could help me. You see, M has a son thats two years older than Willy, and he is on the Autism spectrum as well. I knew that M would listen to me, and I just needed a life line.
I remember our conversation like it was yesterday. I remember that when she answered the phone with friendly and cheerful “hello,” I was immediately fighting back the tears. I was trying so hard to be strong, but, I couldn’t hold out any longer. I just broke down and let the tears flow. I did my best to continue on with our conversation and I asked her all kinds of question like, when did you know that your son was having troubles, and, what doctor did you got to for a diagnosis, what did the tests entail, how long until you heard the results, etc.
I remember that M was so patient with me. She was kind and gentle with her words, and she let me mourn and grieve as much as I needed to. I told her that I felt like I needed to let go and morn the life that I so badly wanted for my son. I told her that I wanted him to do was go to his high school prom and rent a limo with his friends. I told her that I wanted him to go to college, to get drunk at least once in his life, to experience true love, and so many other wonders that life has to offer.
… and she stopped me in mid sentence.
She told me that if I wanted all of those things for my son, and more, than all of it was possible. I started crying again. I wanted to believe her. I really did, but in that moment… I just couldn’t. I was grieving.
Now, looking back at our conversation two years later, my tune has completely changed. I am no longer mourning my child, but instead, I am cheering him on. In my mind, he can accomplish anything, and if he keeps at it… he can do so much more! I know that my son will go through the rest of his life with uncertainty and some frustration, but with the right tools, he can go to college, live on his own, hold down a job, experience true love, etc.
The reason why I bring this up, is because a friend of mine is experiencing the same thing that I was experiencing two years ago. She is in disbelief, desperate for help, and doesn’t know where to turn to. I feel for her right now, and I want her to know that she is not alone out there. I want her to know that I am her lifeline, just like M was there for me (and still is). As she moves forward on this new journey, she will need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen to, and a nonjudgemental party to give her advice and offer up ideas. Right now she needs to hear the good and sunny side of things, because her world is not over. It’s only the beginning. She has hope on her side, as well as a cheering section.
So, if you know someone who is just starting out on this journey, please let them know that they are not alone, as lonely as they may feel to them. Please, be their lifeline. And if you don’t feel equipped to do so, then think about someone that you may know who might be a nice fit for them, because in the long run, they will thank you for it, and never forget what you’ve done for them.
You will be their hero.