Surveying the fresh oblong finger mark bruises on my upper arm as I soak away the pain that has set in where blemishes haven’t even risen to the surface yet as they are so deep. I sit in rosemary for remembrance and healing, lavender to calm my jangled mess inside, and Epsom salts to pull out the pulsing pains that won’t let go. It is quiet. We’ve returned from a tangled trip where the Boy and I “got into it” or rather he had a sudden blush of anger and attacked and I defended myself.
Celtic music makes me very happy or it makes me very sad. Tonight I rested in the arms of a good concert at my church finding the path to grieve away my troubled soul. I tripped past the lilting lifts of violin and flute to run with the guitar pulsing in the background and keeping time with my selfish yet sacrificial sorrow for me and my Boy. He did not attend the concert with me. It was time I could cry in the dark and no one the wiser, but my husband, who was fellow soldier on the pew holding me up and binding his own wounds with the Celtic wash of wonder created by Jeff Johnson and his band.
Now at home, a broken belting Boy soprano voice breaks in on my bathing revelries as his room shares a wall with my tub time. He reaches out with his songs inviting his Mama to sing with him as he soothes himself to sleep. At first I listen, refusing to break the spell of slumber approaching, but then his volume increases and his voice cracking as he pushes to hear that familiar duet. He knows I’m there still in the tub and will I join him before he nods off? He starts sweetly crooning a song I cannot resist that I sang to him when he was a babe in my arms. This song instantly reminds me of my home, “Oh Shenandoah I long to see you…away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri….” (I’m a Missouri girl.)
We sing with a wall between us, but through it we hear that “other” voice. It is the voice we both want to hear never stop singing---each other. I wish it could be as easy as singing our communication. I want this peace to last for both of us. I grieve for the solutions that haven’t come to help him not to do this thing he hates as he is so blinded by rage, fears, and his brain becomes short circuited to the point he hurts the ones he loves even knowing they are trying their best to help him. And then the weeping and worry overwhelm both of us as we break down trying to figure it all out. We hate it. We hate it so much. Autism is what the doctors tell us is the name of this block of stone that falls like a boulder on our heads.
It isn’t the “autistic” fantastic, better then sliced bread aspects of autism. There are some “neat” things that are a part of the brain wiring that makes a person so unique, but this part of it truly is puzzling. As much as some autistics hate the puzzle piece as a “symbol” of the spectrum, it is because there are those things that don’t quite fit or some things that fit together, but it is hard to assemble the whole picture. Those that object say, ”I’m whole! I don’t have any pieces missing!” I get that. We all want to be seen as whole beings. But what is that “thing” that disconnects and discombobulates a soul where they feel something is missing? Isn’t that a puzzle? I wish I could find that one piece I could put in place for my Boy that would fit easily as I declare, “All better, huh?” and he’d smile up at me and take my hand in such relief and we’d skip around giddy to have found the solution at last!
My bruises will make their way to the surface, turn colors, and then disappear again for a while. I want them to go for good as I can’t take much more. He can’t either. Tomorrow we’ll ring the doctor and research some more finding another path, one with more path this time and less overgrowth, I hope.
I stop singing with him as his voice continues to bellow out the last few strains. I say audibly, “Good night, son” and leave his voice to soldier on solo. He tries once more to engage, but I do not answer as I know sleep is the best course and he will keep reaching forth as long as I am there. I go upstairs where I’m out of range just to so he’ll settle. It works. He finishes that song and he says a few more things to himself and then no more sound. He’s asleep.
Perhaps he is what he sings. The autism wires him differently in a way that he often seems like the lyrics he loves so well. “I am a poor wayfaring stranger, while traveling through this world of woe….” And the second line which begins, ”I know dark cloud gather round me, I know my way is rough and steep, but golden fields lay out before me, where God’s redeemed shall ever sleep….”
I think he longs for something so much better as I do too in this journey. We are both so sure that God has something better for us when we are no longer in this world, but in the meantime, what can we do better is something we both are working on. I assured him, as we both sobbed out in the aftermath of the attack the other night that we will keep looking for a way to help him be in control of this lack of control so he can feel safe. We can feel safe. There will be a plan or place we get to that we can sleep peacefully again getting past the woe and as sure as we both are of heaven we will be able to call this world for a while our home.