Two weeks ago we had…a WEDDING!!! Our first wedding!!!
Our daughter, Andrea, was wed to Kyle Kester in a perfectly beautiful outdoor ceremony at the Texas home of Kyle’s grandparents. It had rained a lot there, even the morning of the wedding; but God told all the weather forecasters that He was sorry to spoil their forecast…that He had lots of people praying for no rain, so no rain it was.
It was a small wedding, the way Andrea and Kyle wanted it, and was full of close friends and family who helped with everything and shared in our joy. Even my brother, John, married them…and his wife, Jeanie, was the coordinator.
Family. When all is said and done, is there anything or anyone more precious to us than family? And especially at an event as special as a wedding, family is there. The pictures are taken, the hugs shared, the laughter abounding. Family love is everywhere during a wedding.
Yet when all the wedding photographs are finally ours to see and enjoy, we will look at our family wedding picture and have one missing member.
Aaron could have been there…and yet he couldn’t. Let me go back in time and explain.
Kyle, from the first time he walked into our house nearly three years ago, was a natural with Aaron. We love that about Kyle. He is patient…treats Aaron as an equal…knows how to talk to Aaron…and knows when to redirect Aaron more than most people do at this stage in their relationship.
Aaron has a very close relationship with Andrea. Aaron is the older by 18 months, but he still sees Andrea in somewhat of a mother role in his life. He loves to talk to her on the phone, almost always about himself, but still he wants to tell her everything about his current movie or game or activity.
But two things happened when Kyle came into this perfect picture. The first thing is that, to Aaron, Kyle was taking Andrea away from him.
“I still want Andrea to be my sister!” Aaron exclaimed when he realized that Kyle just might be here to stay. We explained and explained, over and over, that nothing would change…that Andrea would still be his sister, forever…and that she would still come to visit, and we could go visit her. And that if they got married, he would gain a wonderful brother!
The second thing that happened to Aaron was the process of figuring out just who Kyle would be in our family, and particularly who Kyle would be to him…to Aaron. Aaron struggles with just who is who in family relationships. He may meet a couple and later say that the man is the woman’s dad, not her husband. Uncles, aunts, and cousins are completely impossible for him to understand. And brother-in-law? Forget it!!
Aaron wants to forget in more ways than one!
“I don’t NEED a grand-brother!!!” he blurted out one day as he expressed disapproval over the upcoming marriage.
We didn’t even tell him that a “grand-brother” isn’t a thing.
Many of Aaron’s thoughts about all this marriage business, and the dynamic driving his thoughts, will hopefully be the stuff of another blog one day. Back to our decision now about Aaron and him coming to the wedding…
Andrea called late one Saturday night last December with the very happy news that this had happened:
Kyle and Andrea’s engagement was not unexpected at all, but the reality of it was cause for so much joy. We were happy, happy, happy!!
Yet with Aaron, we were slow to tell him the great news. We knew that he would not be happy, happy, happy. The next day, on Sunday afternoon, we told him what he suspected to be true…that Andrea and Kyle were engaged to be married.
Not long after, I looked out the window and this is what I saw.
Aaron was crunching up mulch. This is his long-standing way of relaxing…of unwinding…of thinking…of dealing with stress.
My heart just went out to him as I looked at him sitting there, alone with his mulch and his thoughts. How difficult it was, and would continue to be, for him to adjust to this huge change looming in his relationship with Andrea.
I opened that door of my heart and I cried. I cried off and on that whole afternoon…some happy tears for the engagement…some sad tears for the reality that is always Aaron.
My thoughts had already, for months, turned to how we would fit Aaron into a wedding. Initially, I tried to figure out ways that we could make it work, having a wedding down in Texas where we wouldn’t have someone who could help us with Aaron. I knew that Kyle’s sweet family would do whatever they could to help us. But still…
A couple weeks after the engagement, everyone was home for Christmas. We have such a fun time all together, laughing and eating and telling stories as we catch up. But Aaron doesn’t have such a fun time. He does for awhile, but then reality hits him. He is not the center of our time and attention. He must vie for his place, take his turn talking, and eventually come to the dawning conclusion that our interest in aliens and nanomites and volcanoes and outer space is waning after several hours…and most definitely after several days.
Then there is all the hilarity as we laugh and tease and hug. The cherry on top is our annual Christmas Eve Bingo game, with gifts to be won or to be stolen…loud and long…and miserable for Aaron. He does not like parties…he does not like emotion, including too much laughter…he does not like Dad being goofy as he directs the game…and he does NOT like having his gifts stolen.
It inevitably leads to what Andrew calls, “Aaron’s Annual Christmas Meltdown.”
And it is not a tradition that we treasure.
But this is who Aaron is, down to his core. He can’t help it and he can’t change it…and certainly neither can we.
So when we were all here this past Christmas, while Aaron was occupied in his room and with Andrea’s beautiful diamond sparkling on her finger, we had a family wedding talk. Specifically we had a “how do we fit Aaron into a family wedding” talk. And the consensus was unanimous: Aaron would not fit into a family wedding.
It sounds harsh, maybe. Unbending on our part. Heartless.
But you see, Aaron doesn’t see things like we do. He has no emotional interest in family events like we do. What matters to Aaron…is Aaron. I say this a lot, but it’s because it’s totally true. Aaron wouldn’t care about a wedding, on many levels, just as he never cared about family funerals or celebrations or anything else that was full of other’s emotions.
Emotions drive Aaron nuts. So does having his routine disrupted…sharing attention with others…sleeping in strange places…and having to be around lots of noisy people who are not aliens. He would love it if they were aliens, but they are not. Just another bummer!
And what if Aaron was having a bad seizure day on the wedding day? That would have been just awful.
So our only reason for having Aaron with us would be FOR us. For us to say that Aaron was there. For us to have the whole family together. For us to have the photos taken (which Aaron would HATE, by the way).
Andrea and Kyle’s wedding day was a day for them, and for both our families. A day to relish each other and to enjoy every sweet moment to the fullest. Aaron, honestly, would have made it impossible to do so.
Therefore, Aaron stayed back in Kansas. Abigail “watched over” him, as Aaron says. She and her fiancé Corey, and Abigail’s parents, David and Melissa, had tons of fun with Aaron. At least I like to think it was tons of fun for them. Ha! It certainly was fun for Aaron.
And let’s not forget Gracie and Cosmo, who became Aaron’s furry friends. He loved every minute of doggie licks and snuggles!
We all live life wanting no regrets. But when you have a child with special needs, especially behavioral issues, you sometimes must shift around your definition of “regrets.” We do regret that Aaron couldn’t be at the wedding, but we don’t regret our wise decision to not make him attend an event that he would truly detest.
Our special Aaron definitely makes our life unique and forces us to sometimes make very difficult decisions. Often the best decision for Aaron, though, is the hardest decision for us to make, but Aaron’s needs and his happiness is what must come first.
And trust me, we’ve all learned that lesson the hard way over the years…more times than I can say.
Now the holidays are right around the corner, and we’re about to see how Aaron handles his new…