Thursday, July 9, 2009

Finding Pause . . .

The celebrations have passed, the meals enjoyed, the stories shared, the candles blown. Now I must rest.

Sadly, this flurry of birthday joy floats in a wake of much that wears out the heart. I found myself stretching to opacity at times . . . needing to rest and refresh.

Living in a “special” world under the protective cover of a loving Heavenly Father makes it all possible . . . but not perfect.

The latest musical choice topping Matthew’s list: The Polar Express soundtrack blares through the airwaves in a seemingly incessant journey that ends right where it began – a plaintiff plea for “Music!” and that charming grin that sends me over to the remote once again to play the same selection. Why not just hit “repeat” you might ask? I refuse to believe that we lie stranded in a loop. Change will occur. New thoughts and ideas and flavors will enter and rescue us from the monotony that autism feeds upon. And so I find the remote and select it one more time.

The stereo equipment resides behind a barrier and must be remotely accessed – a skill Matthew has failed to fully master – safeguarding us from a non-stop ride over the same notes . . . for today, anyway. A once delightful Christmas cd has now joined the ranks of “UGH! Not again!” Like Disney’s Electrical Light Parade, Tarzan soundtrack, Lion King, and a host of other former favorites, The Polar Express has worn out its welcome for most of us . . . but not all.

Autism for us involves an ever-changing tableau of choices and needs mired in a sea of relentless repetition. We must be flexible as well as enduring, for what works beautifully one day (or many in succession) may not fit the bill the next. No warning, no hint, simply “No!” For a week or two solid Matthew may request a snack of toast each night before bed. The, one night – NOPE! The toast sits alone until tossed out. Foods, routines, sounds, and emotions come and go through an ever-evolving doorway between Matthew and the outside world.

I applaud each newly acquired task, like helping arrange the pillows on his freshly made bed, or mastering the art of tissues in a nose-needy situation, or verbalizing a request for something. Unfortunately I wear thin when the requests become “dittos” and the failure to express a need becomes an issue of frustration (for all involved). Each day dawns bright and new, and yet the glare of the newness falls on weary eyes on more days than I care to share. Today finds me shielding my eyes from the piercing rays of a day full of unknowns in a world of endless choices.

Lest I fall to pity, I find the pause button and give myself some rest. Allowing myself to take a break has not come easy; in fact, the years have shown me to be one who runs smack into the brickwall of breakdown without applying the brakes in time to safeguard myself. My watchful eye keeps my children in sight and I know just when to offer one a bubbly bath, or a tea date away, or a drive through the hills (Matthew’s favorite unwind). Sadly, at times my dear husband and I fail to hear our own hearts beating furiously in overload. Thus, we fall . . . thankfully into the arms of the other.

For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow:
But woe to him that is alone when he falleth;
For he hath not another to help him up.

Ecclesiastes 4:10

Today I rest in the arms of a very weary husband. A cancelled business trip, a house empty of guests, and a pantry well-stocked afford a day of rest for us.

Long ago my husband discovered that I had no eye for the fuel gauge in our vehicles. On several occasions I “drove home on fumes” and other times I waited by the roadside for his trusty rescue. In short order he adopted a routine for keeping our car fuel above the half-way mark. It worked. (But I still remain blind to the indicator – sigh!) I learned that he had no concept of “sorry we’re broke, don’t buy that.” I took over the financial duties after a few mishaps with lapsed due dates on necessary bills and ballooning debt. It worked. (But he still buys on emotion when the need presses – sigh!) We both had the wisdom to note that these seemingly simple oversights represented an Achilles heel which caused stumbles and bruises that didn’t need to be. Rather than harangue me about the gas level, he merely blessed me with a wing of protection. Rather than gripe about a late fee, I merely wrote the checks in a timely fashion. It works. We smile. Life continues along its bumpy path, “Business as usual” until . . .

Every now and again we blow a fuse and the reset button must be applied. Today we will push reset.

Our daily teatime at midmorning will linger a bit longer as more stories than usual fill the air. Laughter will come stiffly at first and then grow deep and full as the tight lines around the mouth relax. A second piece of cake or another cookie will sneak onto the plate. (With a plethora of leftover goodies to choose from and a bit of extra pause, who can resist?) I will even lie back and close my eyes, despite the soiled dishes stacked neatly nearly 24 hours ago. I will pause . . .

All too soon the tummies will growl for more than tea and cakes, the laundry chute will belch an overflow of play togs, and Matthew will come in with an eager request for “Music?” Yep, I’ll climb aboard the Polar Express AGAIN . . . but I’ll smile a refreshed smile as I dial in #164, thanking the Lord for this precious “Special” life that includes a “Reset” button that trumps the “Repeat” button every time.


Tricia said...

Your post today brougth tears to my eyes. I do not intimately understand autism, but your mother's heart echos my own. I will continue to hold you up in prayer, my dear friend. God bless.

scrappy quilter said...

Your post ....I need a Kleenex. Our son, who is 21 has autism as well. What a beautiful post.

Linda said...

Your post is very touching today. I don't understand autism as a day-to-day situation because we've never been touched by it.

I have a friend who's son is autistic. He has Asberger's, I think it is called, and he is able to function fairly well.

Thank you for letting us catch a glimpse into your day and week.

Karen Deborah said...

I love you.

Karen said...

Reset. I like that. It IS so much better than Repeat. I think of you often, and your dear family. God has you wrapped in His love. Rest, and be reset.

jojo said...

beautiful post, beautiful boy, beautiful, beautiful family. Happy Birthday sweet one. jj

Flea said...

Thank you for sharing the joy and the pain today. Your eloquence speaks volumes. God bless you, sister. {{{HUGS}}}

Joyce said...

What a blessing to Matthew, to be loved by you all. May the Lord refresh and strengthen you, as you 'keep on keeping on'. <3

Kat said...

Such a beautiful post. You are a blessing. :)

Ruth MacC said...

I think you were writing for mee too when writing about you and your husband:0)

Nothing new under the sun.

Nice to know I am not the only one!

Prairie Chick said...

oh I've missed you! Such beauty and heartfelt sharings always to be found here. I feel tears rise and smiles form, and love in my heart each time I slowly digest your tea time sharings. I smiled especially at the gas guage predicament as it plagues me as well =) Much love and heartfelt hugs to you this rainy prairie day my friend.

bindhiya said...

Dear Debbie,
This is a beautiful post!!!

I have something for you at my place..
please stop by.
♥ & ((hugs))

June said...

Hi Debbie,
Matthew is so beautiful! I loved reading your post. So many things I relate to. I love the nights because it means my day is over, but I love the morning because it means my day is just beginning.
Hugs to you my special friend. Give your husband an extra hug tonight from me. I don't know where we would be without them.

Grandma Tillie's Bakery said...

I believe anyone that lives around Autism must have the patience of Job. My nephew struggles with Aspbergers and oh my there are times...

Thank God for Matthew, then God for mommas and poppas and brothers and sisters that don't run away but rather batten down the hatches and weather the storms that invariably come.

I am glad to hear you took some time away to recharge. I too, am guilty of taking care of everyone except myself and then when the crash comes everyone suffers. If not for my husband dragging me away I would probably never leave this island, my sanctuary.

God bless you and if you find yourself thinking of me, please pray for my mom as she struggles with stomach issues.