By Cathy Jameson
This picture of my boys was taken a year ago. Ronan, in the green sweatshirt, stopped moving long enough to sit down and look straight into the camera. Sitting proudly next to Ronan is his younger brother, Little Buddy. Little Buddy, who was also injured by his vaccines but has recovered, plays more of a big brother role than Ronan is capable.
Little Buddy prays daily for Ronan hoping he too will be free of his vaccine injury. He hopes that Ronan will be healed so that he can talk and so that they can play together. With a heart bursting with pride, love and devotion, Little Buddy has enlisted his classmates to pray also. Together, they offer special intentions for Ronan’s health and healing. I need to take a lesson in Little Buddy’s devotion and perseverance because lately, I am having a hard time seeing too many positives in Ronan’s situation.
I certainly have some things to be thankful for today, but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I feel much more worry than thanks. We’ve had to handle some uncomfortable issues lately: wandering, an increase in seizures, stagnation of skills and negative behavioral concerns.
I have been less than thankful for the many reminders of what’s making Ronan’s life more difficult. Those difficulties, and the reality of Ronan’s vaccine injury and autism diagnosis, have me riding an emotional roller coaster. Time heals all wounds, though, right?
If I give it a few days…
If I shake the worry while looking for a bright side…
If I let some of the nagging go…
If I hope for the best…
I’m working on that. I really am. I’m pushing through the tough stuff. I’m praying for comfort. I’m hoping my bad attitude isn’t affecting my family. I’m waiting for peace to envelop me as it used to. How I miss that peace and the confidence it brings.
Hope. Healing. Confidence. Peace. I don’t have those in me at the moment, but I know someone who does. While I muddled through another wave of negativity last week, Little Buddy surprised me to the point of being speechless. As Ronan suffered another seizure, as we dealt with another delay, as we maneuvered around another huge road block to acquiring adequate support, Little Buddy popped into the kitchen with a whirlwind of excitement. I don’t know what prompted his excitement, but he reminded me that getting through life successfully depends on your attitude.
Rushing over to me, Little Buddy asked, “Mommy! What do you think Ronan will be when he grows up?”
Grows up? I thought.
I looked at Little Buddy and then at Ronan. Grows up?!?! Is he for real?
But before I went into the litany of reasons why it feels like Ronan may never truly “grow up” as Little Buddy will, I bit my tongue. I bit it hard.
This sweet, beautiful boy whose own vaccine injury stole his voice for three years. This child who went through digestive issues that would bring a grown man to his knees. This child, who overcame what doctors refused to admit happens. This child who bounded into my kitchen with a thought that I can barely picture in my head. This child who has no idea I feel <this> close to wanting to quit. This child who believes in hope, in miracles, in Ronan and in Ronan’s future had the gall to interrupt the anger, sadness and disappointment that I had been carrying for weeks and weeks.
Deflecting the question while trying to not burst into tears, I replied, “Oh! When he grows up. Huh.” I waited a few seconds and said, “Little Buddy, what do you think Ronan is going to be?”
“Well, Ronan’s really good with electronic games, and he likes to play on the iPad. And he loves the Wii, and he is trying to play on the XBox….maybe he’ll be an engineer!”
What an innocence brimming with possibilities. I held back tears as I could see how happy that thought made Little Buddy. Hugging him, I said, “I love that you love him so much. You are the most amazing brother ever. Ronan is very lucky, you know.” He quietly replied, “I know. I just love him, Mommy.” Then he flashed a goofy grin and ran back to where he was playing. As he went around the corner, I burst into tears.
Instead of looking at my situation with disdain, because there are days that that is the only way I view how things have gone for Ronan, I wondered if I could peek at life through Little Buddy’s eyes. If I peered at Ronan the way Little Buddy does. If I changed my attitude the way Little Buddy already did. Maybe I could see past what Ronan can’t do and concentrate more on what he can. Maybe I could think about what he will one day get to do also. If I did that maybe I could remember that some of this is temporary. I could then focus on what is in front of me. I could believe that an independent future is possible for both of my boys. What a moment it was for me to think about all of that, and what a future gift I would truly be thankful for.
Little Buddy went from being non-verbal to being a believer. He reminds me that anything is possible. With brotherly love and a connection like no other, he has an eternal spirit of hope and of thanksgiving. I am thankful for him and for the spirit he has. More than anything, though, I am more than grateful that Little Buddy reminds me to believe.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.