Tuesday, April 2, 2013

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES...

Barbara Ward-Finneran
It's National Autism Awareness Month.  Today is "Light it Up Blue" day.  I'm embarassed to say that I forgot to wear blue today, except for my blue jeans.  I will admit that that was accidental.  It didn't even dawn on me when my friend greeted me at her door in her 5K for Autism shirt.  Days ago I remembered that April was approaching and that, among other things, meant Autism awareness month and I needed to get writing something for this recently neglected blog.  Practically every day I want and hope to write and yet the days slip by and the posts happen less often then I'd like, and less often then they did not so long ago.  That said, writings fill my head of so often and lately just don't get tapped out on the keyboard.  But today cannot slip by without a post.  Two years ago I wrote Journey Through the Silence.  Every word still rings true today, for me, my family, my friends and so many on this journey - a journey with out and end.  Awareness is a great step but ACCEPTANCE needs to be our destination.  

I may not have remembered, but I didn't forget.  I couldn't forget.  My husband, sons and I walk this journey every day and we are so blessed to have dear friends who walk it with us as well as those who hold our hands along the way.  Today was a day like most others.  It's spring break in our neck of the woods and before my boys morning sleep over play date ended I was anxious to get the next activity planned.  A few texts later and a group of us were meeting at Subway for lunch.  Our adventure for the day.  Five bicycles, two moms, three hungry adolescent boys (two of whom have ASD) and a mile or two between us and food.  My dear friend greeted me at the door, (Autism shirt on), and we rallied the troops into helmets and were on our way.  A bike ride with some teen and or almost teen boys, not a big deal to many.  A great accomplishment for us.  A new triumph for us and our kids.  Another notch on our warrior belts.  Another friend met us there... and now we were three moms and five kids.  Three moms of spectrum kids... three moms who got each other as we slid through the chaos of the busy lunch line and order changes.  Even with the best laid plans --- there was going to be a 15 minute wait for meatballs (Change in plans - OH NO, you ASD moms get it).  Thankfully all rolled with that obstacle.  We sat.  The kids laughed and chattered.  We ate.  We talked.  We shared. The journey never ends...  Our friend who drove to meet us was leaving for an IEP meeting for her son.  My heart ached for her anxious nerves as it was so easy to remember gearing up for similar meetings.  There we sat, a group of moms like any other - blessed to have a decade of love and support between us.  Years of shared victories and heartaches.  Endless hours of advocating, supporting and at times venting.  (Occasionally adding wine when needed.)  We are just like other moms.  Only sometimes... often, we were different, and we got it, got each other... our places on the spectrum vary, but we got it. And, out of the deal got priceless friendships.  Having seen each other tears and held each others backs for years knowing there was strength in numbers and we give that to one another unconditionally.  To quote, Mazie La Bird, from Seussical the Musical, that all of children were in together, "How lucky, how lucky, how lucky you are". I wouldn't be where I am today with out the love and support of my family and friends.  My sons wouldn't be where there are and who they are without that same support system.  HOW LUCKY "WE" ARE...  

... A few minutes on Facebook this evening made me formally remember it was Light it Up Blue day.  I scrambled to share and post a few things and also posted a link to Journey through Silence.  Debated in my mind about a fresh post for today --- before today was over.  I was leaning towards letting it go, when I was messaged, (Someone had read my Journey link, ironically by a friend I made through DRL when she wrote a guest post. Never underestimate the power of a post, lol.)  Her words moved me to tears as she shared about young man in her life who lives with ASD and ending with: "God Bless you for setting the bar for parents who all too often do not advocate for their children.  I 'm honored to have you as my friend".

All too often we may take for granted what our words mean.  What it means when we wait in silence for those first words.  Or when we speak words of encouragement and faith.  Or when we share our journey so another doesn't feel alone.  When we can translate the words our tears speak whether from joy or pain.  When we speak words to advocate for our own and in doing so light the path for others.  Our words have power, more so when spoken with kindness love and acceptance.  

Be aware.  Be welcoming.  Be the voice with the words that someone needs to hear.  Be accepting... Awareness is a great step but ACCEPTANCE needs to be our destination.  Isn't that every mother's greatest wish, that our children be accepted and loved.  We aren't different at all!  

To all who walk with me --- I LOVE YOU - you know who you are! XOXOX
-Barbara

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