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Dear 2009

July 29, 2015

by Sarena James

IMG_7721Dear 2009,  I wish you could read this now. I know how very much you need to read this now, but it’s taken time to write it. What can anyone really say to you in this moment to make you believe it’s going to be alright; make you believe he’s going to be alright. You are the year that has to tell a loving father and mother that their only son has autism, and it will be absolutely devastating to them.

They’ll cry. They’ll embrace. They’ll ask rounds and rounds of questions that have no satisfiable answers, the hardest question being, “Can Grant learn?” The answer, “…no promises.  We’ll just have to wait and see.” Wait. I promise, you’ll see.

Only time could tell, and that’s why I’m writing you now.

Will he ever be potty-trained? Yes! At three o’clock one morning, you’ll hear the sound of the toilet flush, and as odd as it seems, it will be music to your ears. No need to stand on the diaper aisle and cry anymore because the largest size pamper they make is getting very snug. No worries, you don’t need them anymore. Will he ever write his name? Yes! You’ll come downstairs and see G-R-A-N-T spelled clearly and correctly, and he’ll be holding the orange chalk in his hand, smiling, proud of himself, for knowing himself. From then on, he’ll write his entire name with no problems. Will he ever look in your eyes and fully recognize who you are? Yes! Those big beautiful brown eyes that use to wander will find you time and time again, and you’ll turn and see them every time he says, “Mommy.”  Will he ever ride a bike? Oh yes! Not just one bike either, but three, because once the training wheels come off, he’ll decide he wants a bigger bike, and then an even bigger bike. Eventually, his father’s mountain bike will be his choice and he will ride until the street lights start to flicker on. Really? Yes, I promise!  Will he ever read a book? Yes! Every single word! And the library and bookstores will become his frequently requested field trips. Will he ever recognize colors and shapes and numbers? Yes, yes, yes. Will he ever be able to carry on understandable conversations, even initiate them on his own? Yes! Absolutely yes! You’re going to meet so many new people and he will be the one responsible for those introductions.
Why? Because he’ll strike up friendly conversations with so much personality and ease. Even though some people will IMG_7368coldly ignore him, he wins because he had the courage to make eye-contact and speak. He’ll read the name tags of cashiers and ask them where they’re from and what kind of car they drive. And get this, he’ll even receive an award from his teacher for asking the most thought provoking-questions! Can you believe it? I so want you to believe it. I’m 2015, and I know much more than you do. Not judging you though as I know the emptiness and ache you feel.  If I’m honest, I come with my own haunting questions, but they are quieted when I think of what I’ve witnessed already. He’ll go horseback riding, and build big buildings with Legos, and help his father mow the lawn, and drive to Georgia on Google Maps, and dance to music with his sisters, and what’s your question? Yes, yes he will stop those repetitive behaviors of tearing papers insatiably, and turning the lights on and off, and running back and forth into corner walls. Yes, he will begin to better understand his emotions and become accountable for his actions. Grant is amazing. He is resilient and unwilling to be boxed in by statistics or fear. Within his soul, there is the constant ability to conquer and passionately run the race against only his latest accomplishments. He is his own hero, and the moment you give up on him will always be one moment too soon.
Somehow I believe that 2016 will write me a letter even greater than the one I’m able to write you here. I’ll wait to read it though, as currently I am content to witness each moment of grace and light offered by the season of now. Doesn’t mean that there aren’t difficult and challenging days, but now, the promise of the rainbow is greater than the darkest of storms. Now, I know without a doubt the son will always shine, again…
Sorry it took so long to write. Then again, look how much I had to say,

Sarena James headshotSarena James, is a writer, public speaker wife and mother of three. She and her family live in Charleston, SC. Sarena loves to write and created another website as a home for her thoughts and words to live. Originally from Aurora, CO, Sarena is a graduate of Paine College in Augusta, Ga.

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