Thank you for going to school, going to church, playing at home. I love you.
This is the prayer of a little boy on 9/11/2016, a little boy we once were told may never be able to communicate effectively.
Fifteen years ago, I stood in disbelief as the events of 9/11 unfolded before us, pregnant with our twins and suddenly questioning everything I thought I knew about life and how we would live it. My hopes and dreams for the world our son and his unborn siblings would grow up in were being tested.
I shook my head, not able to comprehend the way our world had just changed and held my son tight as often and as long as he would let me.
Our leadership stepped up. President Bush reassured us, “I can hear you, the rest of the world can hear you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”
America united and over time, peace in our hearts was restored.
Four years ago, I also stood in disbelief as doctors, therapists, and other professionals, told us our son may never be able to communicate with us, may never understand what we tell him or be able to express himself effectively, may never be able to build friendships or relationships of any sort. He may lash out at us. He may run away from us. He may never this or never that…my hopes and dreams for one of my sons were again being tested.
Once again, I shook my head, not able to comprehend the way our world was changing and once again, I held my son tight.
Diagnosis day is different for every family, and in fact, different for each person in that family as we all feel and process differently. For us, it was confirmation of something we already knew in our hearts. Yet, hearing the words still pack quite the punch. For me, it was the beginning of a battle in a war we’d already begun.
A month later, another initiative in this battle to hold onto our son and help him move forward commenced with Easter Seals’ Intensive Therapeutic Autism Program (ITAP).
ITAP’s director and her staff quickly became trusted confidants as we began traveling to Peoria for Ben to participate in their three hour program twice a week. Ms. Wiebler assured us that she could hear us, she could hear Ben, and after only a few days into the program, she already knew that everyone would hear him very soon. We united and over time, peace in our hearts was restored.
Life may never be what we once expected, but the peace the prayers of this little boy on the anniversary of an event so breathtakingly terrible brings to my heart reassures me that I am heard; my faith in our creator reassures me that he is heard; and the moments we slow down, allowing ourselves to both hold and be held reassures me that we will never face any battle alone.