Tuesday was my birthday, and an early gift for me that morning was that Aaron got out of bed much earlier than the day before. Why is that a gift? It’s a gift because having to wake Aaron up to get his day going often brings anger from him, but if he gets out of bed on his own it usually comes with a far improved mood…from BOTH of us!
Aaron’s bedtime logbook that he faithfully fills out every day shows that he got out of bed at 7:16. Not 7:15. 7:16. I just wanted to be sure that I was clear on that point, since Aaron is forever and always very clear and precise about his times.
My memory logbook in this brain of mine has recorded that on Monday, Aaron did not get out of bed at 7:16. He was sleeping soundly on that morning, so I had to wake him up, which can be very tricky. Being awakened by Mom is not on Aaron’s list of Happy Ways to Start My Morning. It’s not on my happy list, either. That’s because there is almost no way for me to get Aaron to wake up that suits him. Monday was a rather angry morning for Aaron, but he did go to his day group and I was thankful for the reprieve.
So, Tuesday was wonderful! Aaron was happy, not at all because it was my birthday but because I did not have to talk to him in my weird voice…or shake his leg…or look at him with squinty eyes…or any of the other very irritating manners that he thinks I demonstrate when I’m working to get him out of bed.
I offered to fix Aaron some French toast since we had time and since he loves French toast. He readily agreed, so while he showered…in whatever form that process took that morning because we’re never quite sure…I began the French toast. Later, as Aaron sat down to eat, I saw him immediately place something from his plate onto the table beside him. Can you see the little dark spot there on the table near his plate?
I knew what it was. The small glob was a piece of the toast that had cooked harder than he likes. Aaron always places hard parts of food off his plate because he will not eat them, and he doesn’t want them near his food that he IS eating.
Later, when we were both done with our breakfast, I saw that on his plate was one more bite of French toast. I told him he had one more bite to go as he got up from the table, but he told me that he didn’t want it.
“It has those hard parts, Mom,” he explained. I didn’t push the issue or make a big deal about it. After all, why ruin our good morning over one bite left on his plate?
But as I looked at his plate, I thought of how much like life those hard parts are. Hard parts are most definitely a real part of all our lives. I wish I could just have all the plump, juicy pieces that are easy to swallow. But no, it doesn’t work that way. Life, all too often, seems to have way too many of those hard parts.
I remembered those set-aside pieces the next day as I took Aaron to his Epilepsy doctor appointment. It was time for more blood work for Aaron, so after his doctor visit, we walked over to the building next door and went up to the lab. We’ve been very blessed that Aaron, from the beginning of his seizures at a young age, has always liked watching the needle go in his arm. Even when it hurts, Aaron wants to watch each time.
I looked at him sitting there, taking it all in, and I suddenly wanted to cry. I wanted to cry because he looked so vulnerable. We get used to all these doctor visits and needles and medicines and tests, but today it was like I was seeing it all fresh and new. He was my little boy again, with his life ahead of him…all of us unaware of all the hard parts that were ahead.
Soon we were waiting on the elevator, Aaron more than ready for lunch at Applebee’s. The door of the elevator opened. I hesitated to get on because there was a woman in a wheelchair inside, plus the nurse who was pushing her, plus another woman, plus a man. That’s a lot of pluses! The woman in the wheelchair saw our hesitation.
“Come on in!” she cheerily said. “I won’t bite!”
I laughed, told Aaron to follow me, and we stepped inside. I stood in front of the woman in the chair, facing her. I saw then that she was on oxygen. She was wearing a hat to cover her bald head, and her skin had the unmistakable chalky look of advanced cancer. I thanked her for letting us crowd in, and then I asked her how she was doing.
“Oh,” she said now with weariness, “I’ve been better.”
“I’m so sorry,” I told her. I wanted again to cry, and I hoped she knew that I cared.
As the elevator stopped and we all went out into the hall, I saw that the man from the elevator was walking with a badly deformed leg, or maybe a prosthesis under his pants. His walk looked so painful. And there outside the front door was a van from a hospice group, waiting to take the sweet cancer patient to her destination.
Hard parts. All around me were hard parts.
Still fresh in my heart was the message from a friend about her impending divorce, received that very morning. Other concerns for family and friends weighed on my mind…death, loneliness, health issues, fears, financial problems, job concerns.
Do I sound depressing and dreary? I don’t want to leave it there, because for those who know God and follow Him, these hard parts are also precious parts of growing closer to our Savior. Jesus suffered, and so shall we suffer. But we have hope because we know that God is in control of every part of our lives…the easy and the hard.
This hope isn’t like saying, “Oh, I hope that works out.”
NO! This hope is a certain expectation that all WILL work out according to God’s will, for our good and for His glory. The outcome may not work out exactly as I want, but my wants are not nearly as important as God’s will.
Is Aaron cured of his Epilepsy? No.
Is Aaron cured of his autism? No.
So, how do I handle those “no” answers? I handle them by fully embracing that a “no” answer is still God’s answer to me. I trust Him to know best.
And I don’t try to push those hard parts out of my life and out of my heart. I accept their reality with God’s grace.
Of all the Aaron issues that we deal with, his behaviors are by far the hardest to handle with love and wisdom. Gary and I get tired…frustrated…overwhelmed…angry. But Aaron is the whole package, the easy and the hard. The sad and the hilarious.
We wrap our arms around Aaron and love the whole person, seizures and autism mixed in with all the rest.
Like Jeremiah said:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust IS the Lord!”
“You are my refuge in the day of disaster.”
And so must each of us see every part of our lives as just the right mixture that God intended, and not try to remove the parts that are hard as being too hard to handle. Go in God’s strength and trust Him.