We finally spoiled the secret. It was one Sunday afternoon. We prayed for the right words. We sat at the kitchen table and spilled the beans… “Goldi has autism,” we said to our kids.
I was teary. My husband sighed, and gave a “it is done” nod.
“Can I have a snack now please?” said Goldi’s brother.
Didn’t you just hear me? I thought. Your sister has autism! Don’t you know what this means? It’s our forever thorn in our side! I longed to let loose a silent scream.
“Do you have any questions?” asked my husband.
“Please, may I have a bowl of cereal?” my son asked.
No further comments. As he crunched along, a floating speech bubble floated from his head- So my sister has autism. Let’s just carry on with life. Crunch Crunch.
I had pictured a long heart to heart talk. I had pictured some “It’s not fair screams from Goldi” Some tears and prayers and hugging. Nothing.
Our son ponders. He questions. He remembers. And after sleeping on it for some time, he asked,”So how come I don’t have autism?”
“You weren’t born with it. Goldi was. ” I answered.
He goes deeper and gets theological – he is after all going to be a pastor. (or maybe your next congressman- these days, I choose the first one.)
“So if God made us, why did he make Goldi with autism? I thought God made all the good things and all the bad things the bad people made? ”
When I was ready and waiting, he says nothing. When I am least expecting it, ( like when I am trying to figure out how to scrape the burned gravy off my good cooking pan. ) he socks it to me.
“Sin made people bad. Even though there are bad people and bad things, God made everything good first. Sin tried to mess it all up. But God is making it all good again. ”
“I am going to ride my bike. ” he said. The door slams and I see him whiz up and down the neighbors driveways. Carry on with life.
A month later, he stomps into the house.
“Mom!” It’s not fair. I want to have autism too!”
“You mean, you want it to be hard for you to do things like play with your friends, read, write, go the zoo, and eat at a restaurant?
” I don’t mean that. She doesn’t get the same consequences I do.”
“We have to do things different for her so that she understands. Her brain is different than yours. She can’t understand some things as quickly as you sometimes. You are both learning to be the best you can be. ”
All of the sudden, I see him racing cars on the kitchen floor. Carry on with life.
Since spilling the beans, I’ve carried on with life while still being stretched and challenged. I’ve worked to ready the right words for those just in case moments. Lord help us. Throughout all our carrying on with life, I know he’s thinking, concluding, and questioning. And all along he races his cars, rides his bike, reads his books, draws pictures, – and carries on with life. He does what he knows to do. He does what he does best.
One morning, I find them snuggling in the same bed.
“He’s so cute!” Goldi says. “He’s the cutest little kitty.” she says as she gently pats his head.
“Meow” says my son snuggling and squeezing Goldi until she giggles.
His sister has autism. Carry on with life – with love.
Verses from 1 Corinthians 13: If I have faith that can move mountains but have not loved. I am nothing. Love is patient and kind. I have faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love.
For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”