For the past few weeks I’ve felt like I live in a snow globe. I’m a figure that’s not fastened down, so when the globe is shaken I just fly all around with the snow. Crazy, to say the least!
Gary and I knew that this was going to happen:
Thankfully his foot surgery was planned and on our calendars many weeks ago. We had time to prepare, even throwing in some minor things like having two bedrooms remodeled. You know how that is. Emptying the rooms of everything; deciding on what supplies to purchase; purchasing supplies; going through drawers and shelves and making multiple donation trips to Goodwill; the remodel itself (great job, Distinctive Designs!!); cleaning; putting everything back in the rooms; and heavy furniture up the stairs or down the stairs (thank you to our son, Andrew, home for Thanksgiving!).
Then there was decorating and preparing for Christmas with all the shopping and wrapping and mailing and cards and cooking yet to do.
Oh, and let’s throw in cleaning our big storage room two days before surgery! Why not??!!
In the midst of it all, there is Aaron. Aaron…trying so hard to maintain his normal.
Aaron’s normal is very vital to him. His normal is as vital to him as breathing or eating. Normal gives him stability and predictability, which he needs to maintain his balance.
Gary and I can roll with the flow, stressful as that flow may sometimes be. Aaron…not so much. When his normal flow of life is redirected…shaken like the snow globe…Aaron most often will react instead of handling the change. Then whatever is causing his life change, as he sees it, becomes the enemy.
The enemy may be an event. That’s why holidays, parties, trips, or other out-of-the-norm happenings can rock his world. Aaron’s world is what he makes it. His world is set and settled in his brain, everything in its place. His days flow with an established pattern. Can we all spell “ROUTINE?!”
The enemy may also be a person. Any person who disrupts his pattern of life or his way of doing life becomes a huge problem to him. Just ask his siblings about our Christmas family time every year. We all know to expect at least one “Christmas Meltdown” every year. The meltdown often involves some aspect of our family Christmas Eve Bingo game, which combines a party atmosphere with a lot of crazy thrown in from the annoying people who are on his turf and messing up his routine.
Autism at it’s finest, let me tell you!
When Gary and I arrived home the day of his surgery, Aaron was so very happy to see us. I saw him scan over Gary’s huge wrapping with his ever-observant eyes, but Aaron never asked how the surgery went or how Gary was feeling.
Instead, Aaron talked up a storm as we got Gary settled in bed. He ran up to his bedroom, returning with a soft blanket of his that he wanted Gary to use. He ran outside in the dark and brought in our trashcans that were at the end of the driveway. He kept looking for ways to help and was just SO happy to have us home. I’m not sure how much of that happiness rested on the fact that his dad was all right or on the fact that we were home, at last, and now life could be back to normal.
Dad was in the guest bedroom. Mom had to make trips down to Dillon’s for meds and food that sounded good to Dad and drinks to settle his stomach. Dad wasn’t talking much and Mom was distracted. People were calling. Or coming to the house.
The morning after surgery, Aaron was getting edgy. We knew it. And Gary, bless his heart…in the shape he was in…managed to ask Aaron about his game he was playing. Aaron was off and running then! Talk, talk, talk!! Talk about what he loved and what he understood and what mattered to him.
Honestly, Dad’s foot and leg all propped up on the living room couch didn’t matter to Aaron at that point. How Dad slept didn’t matter. Dad’s possible pain didn’t matter.
It seems heartless to us, but we know Aaron. We know how autism is often defined by a narcissistic way of viewing the world.
We had some storms that first week. It got rough. My reactions weren’t always kind and loving toward Aaron.
Then after the snow would settle in our upside-down snow globe world, Aaron would look at us and immediately launch into talk of aliens and outer space and his latest movie and anything…ANYTHING…but real life and feelings and concern for us. Then his anger would erupt if he sensed our lack of interest in what he was saying.
Just so exhausting.
One night after going around and around, Aaron regrouped quickly and stood by Gary in the living room talking about what show he was watching or game he was playing. This was Aaron’s happy place with his captive audience.
This past week, our second week post-surgery, Aaron came down with the crud bug. Fever, cough, sore throat, aching all over. A doctor visit, some meds, and he is better. But again, a sick Aaron was a touchy Aaron.
Until he thought of Christmas lights.
“Mom?” he asked on evening. “Can we go look at the lights on the big white house?”
It wasn’t necessarily what I had time or interest in at that moment, but I saw the hope on his face and so off we went. We saw the lights and then drove on to look at some other lights close by in several neighborhoods.
A couple nights later, after our neighbor mentioned a near neighborhood that was all decked out in lights, Aaron and I went out again. House after house was glowing and flashing and bright and fun. Aaron was mesmerized, leaning forward in his seat and very still, with a smile on his face.
“I LOVE this place!!” he finally exclaimed.
It warmed my heart so much for him to express such joy.
It warmed my heart to be the one who showed him this place he loved.
I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t love this place where God has us. Life with Aaron can be very tiring. He requires or demands things from us that we at times have no energy or interest in giving.
This place isn’t always bright and pretty and rewarding and fun. Sometimes we wonder why we’re here and what we’re doing.
But this place is where God has put us.
Aaron is God’s gift to us.
Sometimes we don’t feel that sentiment. Gary and I get weary…lonely…at the end of ourselves.
I’m sure the man Jesus…God’s Son…felt all that and more, thousands of times over, as He walked this sad earth.
And because Jesus walked with us, He also understands our weaknesses and our human thoughts. He is here with us to give us His grace and enable us to do the same with Aaron.
Aaron may not always love this place, either. When his life is askew and he is miserable, loving this place is the last thing on his mind.
But may he know, when the snow is settled and the storm is over, that HE is loved.
Loved by God, as are we…and loved by his parents.
May this place, where we are at the moment, be a place of love when all is said and done.
And may your place, dear one…hard as it may be…be a place filled with God’s love for you and through you.
Bright like the lights of this beautiful season!