I’m constantly being reminded of some simple prayers that Ronan’s siblings have been saying for years. Nightly, and even during the day when we get a quiet moment, I hear the children pray:
Lord, help him to talk.
Lord, help him to communicate.
Lord, help him to please play with me.
Technically, the prayers are being answered. They’re just not being answered like they’d envisioned. The siblings hope that their prayers would bring forth complete healing, 100% restoration of speech, and being “all caught up” to where they are developmentally. A word here, a successfully used sign or gesture there, and playing next to where they play is nice. But they’d like more. Instead of getting discouraged, they up their prayer game.
Ronan's siblings' intercessory prayer: Fr. Vincent Capodanno, pray for Ronan, for his healing and recovery. Amen.
The other day, I was reading something that I’d shared quite a few years ago with some family and friends. Not yet fully understanding how Ronan had tumbled onto the spectrum but understanding that important skills had been lost, Ronan’s little brother offered: I'm gonna pray for Ronan so he can talk and so he will play with me. I've never played with him before.
In the midst of thinking about just how much Ronan still doesn’t talk or communicate and about just how much he still doesn’t play with them, I heard a strange noise coming from Ronan’s iPad. As quickly as I’d heard it, it went away. A day or so later, I heard it again. Before I could see which video Ronan was watching, he had switched screens.
Ronan’s wowed me with some of his song choices in the past, but that eerie tune he kept playing haunted me. The youtuber who’d posted the song that Ronan was fixated on (all day long 3 long days in a row) distorted the sound. He also posted the song with no lyrics. I thought I recognized the tune, but as soon as it became somewhat familiar to me, Ronan would switch to another song. Days and days later, I could finally place where I’d heard the music before.
(audio recording of Ronan’s little sister)
…Oh, breathe on me, oh breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
For all eternity.
Much like his Mom, Ronan is a music junkie. He loves his music. I love that he chose that hymn and that I finally figured out which song it was that was comforting him. It took a while to jog my memory and to find that audio recording of his little sister, but I now remember the day that I’d captured it. It was not a perfect day.
I was at a Mass that Ronan was yet again not able to attend with us. While my husband stayed home with Ronan, I juggled the other kids. O Breathe on Me, O Breath of God was the recessional song. It came at the end of Mass, one I’d wished we could attend as a family. Feeling blue, the message from that song reminded me to once again let go and let God – something that had become increasingly difficult for me to do. I don’t always remember to do that even now, but I do try to go forth and live peacefully, happily, and also hopefully in my home and in my community.
I long for the day that Ronan, too, can be more a part of our community, especially when it comes to Church, but he always manages to remind me to be thankful – for the moments that he’s alive, that he’s doing, that he’s trying, and when he’s just being his happy, silly himself. Of course, the rest of us do sometimes hope for more.
It isn’t perfection that we hope for. We hope to see Ronan one day catch up a little bit more. We hope to see him one day playing with his siblings and with friends a little bit more. We hope that he can one day be more a part of our activities at home and out in the rest of the world just a little bit more. That’s why, even on the bad days, we promise never to lose faith.
For better communication, for speech, for appropriate and hour’s long fun and appropriate play – as long as there is still breath in me and in those amazing siblings of Ronan, we will keep on praying and believing.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.