Promises were sacred to me when I was a kid. They were what wishes, hopes and dreams were made of. They were part of childhood and how we learned how to trust others. If promises were broken, they were reminders of real life and that, as much as we didn’t like it, change was inevitable.
Playground promises had us thinking they’d last a lifetime:
I promise to be your best friend forever! (Even if forever was only for a day.)
I promise to invite you to my birthday party! (Until they changed their mind.)
I like you. Promise? Yep. (Until someone else hipper, cooler or more exciting came along.)
As an adult, promises are still important, but some that are made are not life-changing and don’t carry as much weight:
I promise to do the dishes...later.
I promise to organize the laundry room...soon.
I promise to return that phone call...eventually.
Those types of promises pale in comparison to the ones I made with all of my being as a young parent. Take for instance the promise I made to Ronan ten years ago when he was a newborn—I promised to keep Ronan safe, healthy and happy. How that has backfired!Safe from disease? The first assault to his immune system occurred hours after his birth and causes disregulation that plagues him even now.
To bring him good health? Good health would mean he’d be free of the
pain, frustration and difficulties he faces daily and that we’d be rid of the
many specialists we are forced to see because of Ronan’s condition.
To keep him happy? Sure, Ronan is happy--but with toys, books, games, music and experiences that mirror what a preschooler would prefer.
The promises I originally made to Ronan were not broken on purpose. They were broken in conjunction with others’ actions and with people whom I placed too much trust. Those promises I made were broken time and time again as I watched a medical system and its representatives act like know-it-all, higher-than-thou deities. Detours, disappointments and on-going devastation finally opened my eyes though.
Nothing could prepare me for how broken we both were after this realization—Ronan with his now complex medical issues and how they rule his life, and I with the nagging disappointment I carried after witnessing each promise I made to him be shattered.I could wallow in that disappointment all day long, but how is that going to help me help Ronan? It can’t. So, as I was forced to rework much of Ronan’s path, and how I have had to alter my own, I made new promises to Ronan. I may not have been able to fulfill those early promises I made to him all those years ago, but I have created and already acted on new ones.
I now promise to make life better for Ronan and to stay true to that as we both work toward his recovery:
I promise to learn as much as I possibly can with each book I read, order, check out of the library, borrow and one day hope to write.
I promise to continue to share Ronan's story with others while repeating it to those who simply have not accepted, or who will not rightfully acknowledge, that what happened to Ronan did indeed happen.
I promise to remain vocal about the autism-vaccine (and other environmental triggers) connection because children like Ronan unknowingly risked and lost their voices, faculties and abilities for a ‘greater good’ who cares nothing about Ronan or any of our children.
I promise, that as tired as I am, and as dejected as on some days I feel, I will keep going because Ronan must continue as well. If he can keep going with the limited abilities he has, then I have no excuse to give up now or ever.If they are never broken, promises have a beginning and end—once they are uttered to when they are completely satisfied. As we enter 2013, many, many promises made to our children have yet to be completed, my own for my son included. Maybe this will be the year that promises can finally be celebrated—especially those promises that bring life, love and success to our children because these children of ours are worthy of every action, positive thought and good deed that we can perform.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.