Dear fellow readers/supporters/friends,
For those of me who don’t know me, my name is Jean Feder-Ewell, (AKA, Jills “Fabulous Friend J”). My 4 year old daughter is Willy’s “Best Girl E”, and Jills family has become like my own over the past years.
I am a physical therapist that has done a lot of work in pediatrics in an out patient setting over the past nine years. However, some of the biggest lessons I have learned regarding autism have been from my time spent with Jill, Jason, and Willy. (But today is not really about that).
I’ll start from the beginning.
Jill and I became fast friends after my husband found a baby sock in the dryer of the apartment building we all lived in. He went walking around until he found who’s it was. He heard a baby in an apartment. Sure enough, it was Willys, and the rest was history.
Willy was only 3 months old.
A year and some change later, my first child was born. You guessed it, it was Willys “Best Girl E”. The first time they met, an unbreakable bond was formed. From the beginning E was Willy’s “baby”, and he was her “buddy”.
My favorite lesson I have learned is by watching My Girl E and Willys interactions over the years. They have had a tough love relationship. They have both learned young what unconditional love really is.
E has always been a very emotional girl, which has always made Willy uncomfortable to a certain degree. He has never handled her crying well. They have always played well next to each other, and you can see the love in the excitement when they see each other. However, there was always the looming concerned that E would cry and Willy would get upset and hit her. Then after time to cool off, he would apologize with a hug and they would go back to playing like nothing ever happened.
As she got older, E was always equally excited to see him, and he, her. She began asking questions about why Willy doesn’t talk much and why he hits sometimes. I tried to explain that he had a hard time using his words, and sometimes that was how he expressed himself, just like she could SEE how excited he was to see her even if he couldn’t verbalize it.
He has always greeted her with a hug, hair tussle, and huge smile.
I explained that everyone is different, and has different ways of expressing themselves. She has always been ok with this explaination.
When willy was in the hospital last year, and they couldn’t see each other for a few months (a crazy about of time when the were used to seeing get each other every other week or so). The first time we got together after, it was like watching long lost friends seeing each other for the first time in years. It was Beautiful. Somehow those two knew they are always there for each other.
Willy was a huge confidence boost to E when her baby brother was born almost a year and a half ago. It was great to visit them because Willy would give the baby a quick look here and there, but his attention was always on E more.
Over the years there have been more moments of dress-up, playing on the swings, coloring, blowing bubbles and giggles than I can count! Lately, however, they have begun playing TOGETHER more, which is a HUGE change for Willy. A few times I have seen him try to engage E which makes her so happy.
The other week we went to see E’s very first movie in the theater, “The Good Dinosaur.”Jill and B joined us with some hesitation. Jill was worried how Willy would do waiting through previews.(He did awesome by the way). On the way to the movie, E expressed her excitement to see Willy. “He’s my best ‘Buddy’! I love him so much!” She said to me. And the smiles on their faces showed the true story of how much they love each other. And even though they can make each other as uncomfortable as humanly possible, there is a bond there that cannot be broken.
My friends, let these two be a lesson to us all in the new year. It is OK to be different. It is OK to be yourself, no matter what that means; whether it is Jewish, Christian, Musim, black, white, hispanic, gay, straight, emotional, autistic, or anything in between. Love everyone for who they are. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same. We can learn a lot from each others differences.
Learn to love unconditionally, just like these two do. The world would be a much better place if we all could.
Happy New Year.