Time has tremendous healing powers. But the deepest cuts always leave a scar, regardless of how many years fly by.
I was talking to a parent recently who was in that terrible time right after a diagnosis; the fog where you question everything. You think about every scenario and how it’s all changed. Those extraordinarily difficult days that haunt our memories.
The parent asked me when you start to feel better. I explained that the pain just fades. How long it takes is different for all of us. But even years later, things happen that just slap you in the face and take you back to that dark time for a moment. You never know what might trigger you.
For me, after that initial grieving ended following my oldest son Arlo’s Down syndrome diagnosis, I found being with my nieces and nephews sent me into one of those setback periods, especially with his cousins closest in age.
Time and distance keep us from seeing extended family as much as we like. Our visits come with much gleeful anticipation.
We all know it is human nature to compare ourselves to others and our children to other children. We try not to, especially when it comes to children who are differently abled, but you can’t help it. It was easy for me to see the forest for the trees at home. With all of our supports in place I could appreciate the progress Arlo was making. I was in awe of my hard working little guy.
Then I would see him with his cousins and my heart was bursting with love and sinking at the same time. All of us are more alike than different. But all I could see were the differences. How well they were all doing. How simple things like talking and walking were for them. How different our families’ worries were from our brothers’ concerns.
Our visits, while wonderful, were painful. When our time together was up, it would take days, if not weeks to feel better again.
Arlo is a couple weeks shy of 7 years now. We are lucky enough to be visiting our family on the gorgeous North shore of Lake Superior. This time something is different.
I’ve always seen Arlo as Arlo. But he and I are both coming into our own. He is clearly his own person with preferences and opinions. More importantly, I am becoming my own person as the mother of a child with a disability. The differences are all still there – I just have more confidence in my family’s place on this planet. Arlo was born owning his existence in this great big world. But it took me a while to accept and more importantly EMBRACE this trajectory we were put on because of his diagnosis.
Time certainly gives us perspective. In this case it has brought me peace. If there are any tears shed on this family visit, they will be tears of joy.
I think of it as little griefs along the journey.