20 Years and A Lifetime Ago
Governor Cuomo's Cruel Legacy

Ten Years Later: Change In Time

9-11-TRIBUTEIf you can believe it, Cathy wrote this for us in 2011, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Ten years. Twenty years. We have become a nation consumed (fed) by fear, anxiety and fight or flight decision making.  Yesterday, we pointed out that you need a vax pass to enter the 9/11 memorial at Ground ZeroIn accordance with the Key to NYC mandate, the Museum requires all visitors age 12 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to enter. Masks are required in the Museum for all visitors over the age of two. Masks are not required outdoors on the Memorial plaza for those who are fully vaccinated.

Change in time. Breathe. And enjoy Cathy's thoughts.

By Cathy Jameson

Since I do a lot of driving here, there and everywhere to get my son to his therapies, I have a good amount of thinking time to brainstorm ideas.  Some of the ideas are for my typical family needs.  Most of them involve my son and his special needs.  I’ve been kicking an idea around in some of those quiet driving moments for a few months now, but hadn’t been inspired yet to put it on paper.  It’s about the word present.  Present has several meanings.  The one that I was reflecting on is “the period of time now occurring.”

Present.  Now.  This very moment.  In my life, a moment can include a flash of frustration or a jump for joy.  Depending on what Ronan is doing in a specific moment triggers an emotional response from me.  I realize more and more that whatever mood Ronan is in, I too am in a similar mood.  His happy moments are quite enjoyable to experience.  Those include hearing Ronan finally saying a word after going weeks without uttering anything.  It feels like a hug full of kindness for something fun I’ve done with Ronan.   Those joyful moments are ones that pepper both of our days and can last several minutes with much whooping and hollering.  When happy present moments happen I relish them along with the expression Ronan offers me as he realizes he too is happy.  

Just as I witness the happy moments, I live through Ronan’s struggles.  If he is unhappy or ticked off at something, so am I.  Present can feel like an eternity when one of Ronan’s loud, disruptive negative behaviors lasts for three, four or five minutes long.  It feels one hundred times longer when that happens with multiple eyes staring at us when we’re out in public.  Eternity is how long it takes Ronan to move a hard and constipated bowel movement.  Add the watching of the clock to see how long it takes to return to the softer and daily BMs; that’s an eternity and a half!  Those present moments are ones that I would rather fast forward but unfortunately get stuck in.

Awhile ago something caught my eye when I looked at the word present.  I had a list of tasks ahead of me that were going to be monumental in order to complete.  I had so much work to do for some personal issues that Ronan’s daily needs were becoming cumbersome.   I’ve gotten used to the intensity of some of Ronan’s care, but the frequency of them started to wear me down.  I couldn’t shake some of the negative reactions I was having.  My frustration level was growing and my heavy sighs were more audible.  I wanted to be done with this marathon healing process it’s taking to get Ronan to recovery.   Why can’t he just skip right through all of the trials, the setbacks, the exorbitant fees for care and instead go straight to recovered? I started to resent the work it takes to make every day somewhat successful.  I started to resent the costs to find the right people to help him.  I started to resent what has been taken away from Ronan, from me and from my family. Resent.  It’s a very strong feeling.  It’s also part of that word present that I keep thinking about.

Around the same time I really started to resent how much work I do for Ronan, the news reports of the September 11th anniversary were being aired.  It’s a haunting time of year for many people, me included.  I can barely look at images or videos of the Twin Towers and the other attacks.  Our nation held its breath for what seemed like an eternity while we watched the unthinkable unfold.  I didn’t think I was ready to relive those terrifying moments again.  But then, something about the 9/11 victims’ personal stories hit me hard. 

How trivial of me and my negative thoughts about taking up Ronan’s care!  He’s here.  He’s in front of me.  He still has a chance to make it through life.  The victims’ stories are filled with who they were, where they lived, what they did and who they left behind.  Emotional agonizing memories were filling the stories as tears were filling my eyes.  Families and friends who were killed in the attacks only have their past to hold onto.  Old memories are the only memories.  Their loved one doesn’t physically fill their present moment.  They might continue to warm the thoughts of their past, but it will always be the past. 

The past.  They cling to it. The present.  They work through it.  The future.  They very easily could resent how it was ripped to shreds and taken away that awful day ten years ago.  

The families of the terrorist attacks created tributes to remember what life was like before the attacks.  They remember how their loved one lived, how life was good, how it was going to hopefully be and how it was what they thought was their only.  I can’t fathom the pain, the anger and the emptiness the families must go through each and every day.  I can’t imagine how difficult it’s been for those families because the pain they suffer may never have an end.  It makes me wonder when, or if ever, they will be able to muster hope for the future.   It also makes me realize that through every present moment I have with Ronan, I have the choice to make those moments last.

I want the present I live now to be so much easier even though it’s proving to be a test of my will and my strength.  I have cried for what was done to Ronan.  I cry during the present when Ronan realizes how hard life is for him.  I cry thinking about a future that I sometimes fear.  Right now, Ronan is part of every moment of my life, good and bad.  Because of this week’s many reminders of how quickly life can change in an unfortunate instance, I want to make a decision to take a step outside of the resentment I sometimes plant myself in.  I know I should leave behind parts of Ronan’s past even though I still grieve for it.  I know I can remember happier memories I have of his life before his struggles ruled many moments of my day.  I should do this now and do it before I lose sight of why I was willing to start working so hard for Ronan in the first place. 

Who knows when our present will be stopped short or altered without warning.  Who knows how it will affect us and if we will be able to handle those changes.  I have a past I can choose to leave behind.  Some people haven’t been given the chance to do that.  I pray that the 9/11 tributes give families hope and support to make it through today to find tomorrow.  The unforeseen changed parts of their lives that they may never get back.  I feel fortunate that I have been given the chance to live in the present with my son.  If I can remember to keep my strength, my faith and some hope alive, I will continue to walk a path toward Ronan’s future. 

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.

Comments

Morag Lyons

Thank you Cathy ,your Talk-in- Sunday articles are a great resource service for families .

If ye need help and ye shout help ye will get nae help , so if ye need help don't shout help ,shout" Fire!"
then ye will get help ,Ready Aye Ready ,Aye Laughing!"

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Angels From The Ashes Runrig YouTube .

Gaelic Psalm 91 -Glasgow Fire Brigade, Family favourite!
Psalm 91 - Wikipedia .

Cathy for TOB

TOB, thank you so much for your very kind and thoughtful comment. I read it right before I went to Mass this morning. Your message is exactly what my weary heart and soul needed today. Sending much love and hope right back to you and your family. xo, Cathy

TOB

This is a beautiful piece, Cathy. Your openness about your family, especially your beautiful son, has been a gift to those of us who have read your work for many years.

Yesterday, my family attended a memorial service for a man we knew from our volunteer work. It was kind of a good coincidence that his memorial fell on the 20th anniversary of 9/11--we were able to devote the bulk of the day to reflections on things that matter.

After songs and prayers, and before some preaching from the minister, we heard tributes and memories from the people who knew our friend through many different avenues. Every single one mentioned the money he gave away, the meals he bought people, the work he did for his church, the work he did for fellow veterans, etc., etc. This man was a disabled Vietnam veteran with physical and emotional scars who chose to live in the present and meet every need he saw that was within his power to meet. My family left the service humbled by this honorable person's life, and more aware than ever that we are called to live in the present, to give to others, to meet their needs.

I doubt our friend ever thought, "This is going to get me to heaven," or "They'll remember me for this" when he scrubbed a floor or rebuilt a transmission or cooked for the homeless. But I am as sure that he is in heaven now as I am of anything in this world, and everyone who knew him remembers him for what he did.

This is all a rather long-winded way of saying, Cathy, the same is true for you. Everything you write and every time you document your struggles, what works and what doesn't, your heartaches and your victories, is a gift to us. I am sure you don't get thanked enough. Thank you, thank you, a thousand times. May God bless you and your son with continued healing and strength.

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