By Cathy Jameson
One of my best friends started a blog a few weeks ago. I’ve never followed blogs religiously, but I’m checking in daily to her spot on the blogosphere to see what’s new in her world. In the past I’ve bounced from one blog the next never staying too long with one before being attracted to another. I wasn’t aware of a blogging tradition called Wordless Wednesday until I started keeping up with my friend’s blog. That title is pretty self explanatory: no words are used on Wednesday’s entry. Instead, a picture or image is posted with an invite to readers to offer a caption describing their thoughts or feelings of the picture. What a keen idea!
Why on earth am I telling you all this? Well, I sat down to do some writing for this Sunday’s post and nothing came to me. I’m mentally and physically exhausted. I’ve had a very busy summer which has tapped out all of my creative writing juices. I’m also a little distracted this week as my kids are getting ready to start school. I’ve been running around trying to get school supplies bought, a better night time routine started while also trying to find time to get myself to some meetings. I’m beat! My brain just can’t squeeze out anything more this week.
It’s not like I didn’t try to write something. I’m always thinking about my next piece. It’s so therapeutic for me to put on paper the thoughts that swim through my head. I’m thankful for the chance to share Ronan’s story and to document the progress he’s been able to make despite his vaccine injury. I sat down on Tuesday hoping to get a story started. It was fruitless. I sat down again on Wednesday and actually got something on paper. But, by the time I was done writing it at 12:38 a.m. I wasn’t feeling any love from the piece. It sounded too much like a post I wrote a year ago. It didn’t tug on my heart strings like I’d hoped, so I filed it in my “later-rewrite” folder.
I walked away from the computer and went to bed way too late that Wednesday night thinking, good grief! This isn’t like me. I have had writer’s block before but something usually catches my ear in a news report to trigger a reaction worth writing and sharing. Not so much this week. I’ve got bubkas. Nada. Nothing.
I went hunting for a topic on the internet Thursday evening. That gave me ample excuse to check out those blogs I sometimes bounce around on. That Wordless Wednesday blogging tradition popped up as again I searched. I thought, Viola! An idea! My stories are usually well received on Sunday. What if I did something similar like a ‘Silent Sunday’ post? It could buy me some time now in order to come up with a really great story for next weekend!
My idea sounded super easy—pick a picture, slap in on the document, keep the writing content to a minimum, send it to Kim Stagliano before the end of the week… and success, there’s my post! I’d have something to submit, and you’d wake up to on what we all hope is a quiet, meltdown-free Sunday. But, I couldn’t figure out which picture to choose. I’m using an old computer of ours this summer. It’s really, really old and has been the “extra” computer the kids are allowed to play on. It has some Disney games, some sign language files and a few family documents I’d forgotten about. The computer is a beast and not like the faster, newer, snazzier computer I like to use.
This computer has another feature we don’t use on our newer one—it has a screen saver set to scroll through some of Ronan’s baby pictures. I’ve already come to grips with the pictures as I see that fat, happy baby who used to be so typical in my eyes. Fully coming to grips with my son’s past is something I haven’t gotten around to yet. Too many “if onlys” get in my way when I think about Ronan’s early years. Some days I stop the slide show before those pictures flash across the screen. Other days, I sit in silence and think, My Gosh! Where did that baby go?! I have no time to look for that baby because I’m chasing an 8-year old child with delayed listening skills hoping to redirect him to do more appropriate things.
I know I can’t physically go back in time. Lord almighty, I certainly wish I could. What I would do differently! What I would say more affirmatively! What I would demand most definitely! But, here I sit staring quietly at pictures that capture what was lost so many years ago. Ronan’s eyes changed from bright and happy to glazed over. As he aged, that glazed over look even shows moments of a strange emptiness. Those pictures capture the whole child Ronan used to be. I can’t help but sit in silence-- my own blank stares are full of disbelief.
For this Silent Sunday post I want to be able to sit in silence and be thankful for that fat, happy baby who used to be. I want to sit in silence and appreciate the hundreds of friends and family members who have supported me so as I continue to walk down this path with Ronan. I want to sit and silence and try to let go of how great a wonder it still is to me that Ronan started to slip away all those years ago. I want to sit and silence and be thankful for my chance to write about Ronan because that writing helps to release some of the deepest pain I’ve ever felt. I want to sit in silence and say to myself, Damnit, this sucks. But, damnit, I’m going to make sure Ronan gets what he needs and when he needs it. I want to sit in silence and read the thoughts you’re going to leave after the post because I want to cling to how you found your strength. Without that strength, where on earth would we all be?
I want to sit in silence and try to enjoy the changes Ronan now experiences—a mostly non-verbal child riddled with intense issues I’m unable to wish away. He does have some language so I do say he’s pre-verbal, but his mostly silent day is still so hard to sit through. Even all these years later, I haven’t fully accepted the fact that something man-made turned that fat, happy baby into a very dependent, mostly delayed and sometimes despondent individual.
So, I leave you with a picture that I can go back to look at and enjoy. I’ll leave you with my thoughts of a peaceful memory--a memory of a fat, happy baby I remember oh, so well. Ronan had an entire future ahead of him that changed right before my eyes. That baby boy pushes me the hardest. He does this even though through his silence; a silence that sneaks into every day of my life. I won’t let that silence stop him. I won’t let it slow me down. I’m proud of everything Ronan does because it’s through his struggles and his pain that my silence has been broken.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.