Today is one of Aaron’s favorite days of the whole year. Today is his birthday! Aaron is now officially 28 years old! His countdown is now over…….the long anticipated day is finally here and he can continue his celebration that actually began yesterday with a special lunch, and then being taken out to get ice cream last night by the Atkesons. Aaron has never lost his child-like enthusiasm for his birthday. He relishes the fact that the day is all about him, although he’s not annoying about it. He’s happy and exuberant for sure, and sometimes uncomfortable with too much attention……yet he would be very disappointed if that attention never came.
I’ve been thinking back to that time 27 years ago when Gary and I were wanting a baby. We were nearing our 5thyear of marriage when we found out that I was pregnant. That was such an exciting time for us! When I went into labor late on that November night, three weeks before my due date, we were surprised and a little scared. My labor lasted only about 5 hours and there he was……..our baby boy. A son! We named him Aaron Daniel, and I was positive that no one on planet earth had ever given birth to a baby as beautiful as our Aaron. No mother could have been prouder and more thankful than I was. Those were my thoughts as I looked at this little tiny bundle of boy………our Aaron Daniel. He only weighed 6 lb. 4 oz. at birth, and was even lighter than that when we took him home with us.
Aaron grew and thrived normally, never giving us pause for alarm in any way. He was bright and curious, and as cute as he could possibly be. Aaron knew all of his letters, randomly, before he was two years old. Gary was so shocked one day as he held Aaron on his lap before his second birthday. Gary was reading a magazine and suddenly Aaron started pointing to the letters on the page that Gary was reading. Aaron was telling what each letter was and in his amazement, Gary called urgently for me to come. I thought that Aaron must have hurt himself, so I ran downstairs to find Aaron safe………..and calling out letters as Gary would point to them. We laughed and cheered for Aaron, and Aaron was delighted……..though he wasn’t quite sure why.
As Aaron grew, we noticed that he was sometimes a little different from other children. Still we weren’t alarmed. His funny clapping seemed like an appropriate behavior for a young child, and was something that we knew he would outgrow. He didn’t like the feel of certain clothes or the tags on shirts, but sometimes other kids didn’t like those things either. He was very hard to potty train, but aren’t boys often that way? Then came his first seizure in the winter of 1992 while we were stationed in Germany. We were terrified at this unexpected and awful event. Aaron spent nearly a week in the German children’s hospital in Mannheim and was diagnosed with Epilepsy. I cried one night at home until I felt that I had no more tears, and then Gary and I faced the future with faith in God and love for our Aaron.
Aaron adjusted to his seizure meds and kept on being a normal little boy. He taught himself cursive, learned to read, and played with his friends. But he didn’t like many of the loud sounds at school, and we noticed that he had a hard time with maintaining friendships. We returned to the States in 1993, and that next year Aaron was removed from his seizure meds because he had been seizure free for two years. Soon, though, the seizures returned and so did various medicines. Aaron continued to regress socially as he grew older, and his behaviors were more extreme and very hard to understand. He became more isolated…….it took very special people to understand him, especially boys his own age. Yet God put us with some wonderful friends as we lived in Leavenworth and then again when we were stationed in Arizona.
But life was difficult for Aaron, and therefore for us as well. In Arizona, his seizures increased dramatically as did the behaviors. Finally, when Aaron was 14, he was diagnosed by a pediatric neurologist as having Asperger’s Syndrome. I had never even heard of this, and was so shocked when the doctor told me that it was a form of autism. We researched and studied and read……..and again, I cried at this news. One long, hard cry……….and then we moved on in our life with Aaron.
There have been many ups and downs in our journey………..many hard times and hard decisions………many moments when we thought our hearts would break……….and many times when we just wanted to walk away in our frustration during a particular behavior. But Aaron is our son and we love him deeply. With time comes acceptance and knowledge and understanding. With God all things are possible.
God allowed Aaron to be the young man that he is today. Aaron has redefined our parenting……he has reshaped our family……..he has refreshed my world on so many levels with his unique view of the world around him. Would I have designed Aaron to be this way? Probably not. But I have a God Whom I can totally trust and Who wove Aaron in my inward parts. Even though I don’t know the answers to the “why” questions, I do know the Who of creation. I trust my sovereign God with all my unanswered questions. He is an awesome God.
And He gave us an awesome son!