To Give To the Light

In the past, during the month of April (which is Autism Awareness Month), I’ve written about our experience with autism—about helping Benjamin as he learns to navigate the world. And I’ve written a lot about ways in which he’s felt rejected by that world and about the importance of teaching our children to be accepting of those who march to a different drumbeat. In the past few months, I’ve written about the pain of seeing your child suffer and the heartbreak of feeling so helpless to stop the suffering. There have been so many times I wished I could rock Benjamin for hours like I used to. When he was small and didn’t yet have the words to tell me what he was distressed about, rocking was our way of connecting. It was something I could do that helped, and sometimes it was just as soothing to me as to him.

So now I want to talk about hope. The last nine months have been the most difficult months I’ve ever gone through, but also the most rewarding. Benjamin’s journey back to wholeness has been arduous, and unfortunately, much of the help from outside sources we were hoping for didn’t happen. So, as when he was small, I’ve often felt as though it was largely up to me (by the grace of God) to help him into the light. So much of our profound journey together would be impossible to describe, so I won’t try. A couple of posts back I wrote this, and it probably describes it about as well as I can:

In Benjamin’s journey back to wholeness, he and I have had a lot of conversations about the importance of being your authentic self, even when people reject that self. Indeed, my children will both tell you that the #1 Mommy maxim they heard from me throughout their lives is the importance of being true to yourself. Hard for all of us, but especially hard for an autistic person like Benjamin. As an autistic person navigates the world, they are constantly challenged to conform themselves to the world in ways that are often difficult and in ways that may not come naturally. So their struggle to conform, yet maintain that inner core of authentic self, can be exhausting. And often discouraging. Benjamin’s working hard to learn that balance.

 And in helping him, I’ve often been reminded of my own need to remember the truths I know about myself, but sometimes lose sight of when I let the world pull and push me off balance. That equilibrium is so easy to talk about, but so hard to achieve. And that struggle for balance, as I tell Benjamin, is something we all have in common. It’s something we all share–whether we’re autistic or not. The important thing is to not lose sight of who you are or the sense of your own beauty. And to remember always who you are capable of becoming.

I love the recent picture above, but not because Benjamin is standing beside a fancy car, looking like Mr. Success. (the Infinity was neither ours nor Benjamin’s, by the way!). I love this photo because Benjamin looks so genuinely happy. He was about to head for an interview there—his first—which went very well, although he didn’t get the job.

But he’ll he heading to an interview in Raleigh next week—his first long trip alone and his most promising interview yet (he’s already done THREE phone interviews at the company, so clearly they like him). I’m telling you that because I’d like to ask for your prayers and good thoughts for him, please. We are very excited, but a little nervous, too. It’s a big step for him…and for us.

Benjamin and I recently realized that it’s been nine months since he first got sick. For both of us, his transformation in that time has been so profound as to seem like a rebirth. So with his birthday coming up soon, we talked about how wonderfully symbolic it would be if he ended up getting the job around his birthday, making his recovery period a sort of nine-month gestation.

Four years ago, Ariel wrote a wonderful Mother’s Day tribute to me on the blog she had at the time. I’ve gone back to it during difficult times when I needed help remembering my own worth and value, which means I’ve clicked back to it a whole, whole lot. I love the poem she wrote as a part of it, and have realized that it has meaning now beyond what she intended. Here’s an excerpt from it:

“Both times she gave birth,
she did so naturally. Each contraction
was a fiery push and pull, the urge
to keep us close and the need
to grant us to the world in an excruciating exit.
In Spanish, to give birth is
“dar a la luz,” to give to the light.
When I learned the phrase, I said it over
and over in my head. Voy a dar mi niña a la luz:
I am going to give my child to the light.
I imagined both a sacrifice and offering,
the greatest favor and the greatest risk.”

I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say I’m a bit anxious about Benjamin’s big step next week. But, as I did almost 23 years ago when he was born, I am going to give my child to the light. Benjamin’s birth 23 years ago was difficult and painful, and his rebirth in the past nine months has been often just as hard. But now, as then, all the pain was worth it. Well worth it. And I’ve never regretted it for a second.

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20 Responses to “To Give To the Light”

  1. betsyfromtennessee Says:

    Hi Beth, My prayers will be with Benjamin (and you)… I pray that this is the RIGHT job for him. He’s such a handsome young man. LOVE that photo. BUT–tell yourself that IF he doesn’t get this job, then there will be another one BETTER for him… God wants us all to be patient –which is NOT easy…

    I love your thoughts about him having a re-birth.. That is awesome… Yes–life is hard at times, but people who go through hard times are the ones who are much stronger in the long run…..

    Prayers for you, Benjamin and your family.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

  2. Kay G. Says:

    What a beautiful post. I must tell you that when I saw the photo of your son, I just thought what a very nice face and that he just seems radiant. When you shared the lovely poem later, and then said that you will give Benjamin to the light again…ah, I said there is the light that I saw.
    God bless you and Benjamin.
    Love,
    Kay

  3. Elora Says:

    Hi, Beth…

    Watching and lending a quiet backdrop of support for you and your family, as you move forward.

    Elora

  4. Plowing Through Life Says:

    What a beautiful post, Beth.I love the ‘re-birth’ thoughts! You always have prayers and good thoughts from me for you and your family. He looks so happy in that picture. Genuinely happy. It’s been a tough road for all of you, and I wish you all a wonderful road ahead. May Benjamin always be in the light.

  5. Bikbik & Roro Says:

    Gosh, Benjamin is so good-looking, and he just shines in this picture (he somehow reminds me of Prince William!). Such a lovely post Beth — I’ve been thinking on transformation quite a bit of late (my godmother passed away a day after my grandmother) (thank you so much for your kind words), and pressing on… I love what Paul wrote to the Philippians: “…one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward”. And also from Isaiah: “Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”. You and your family are in my prayers, *hugs*

  6. Jayne Says:

    Like me, you’ve not given yourself proper credit for who they’ve become my dear friend. Ariel’s poem speaks volumes about how much love it has taken to hold them close yet let them go. Benjamin will thrive and find his way, just you wait and see… all because of the love and support he has from you. I adore the look on his face in this photo. It says, “Look out world, here I come!” :c) xoxo

  7. Chris Says:

    Praying for Benjamin, that he may continue to heal and find his place, and for you that you may find relief and peace with what is.

  8. Darla Says:

    Many blessings to you and Benjamin. A beautiful and heart-warming essay filled with love; I am grateful for reading such a gift. And I love the way that you seem to be able to share openly with your son and daughter of symbolism and the mysteries of life and all those subtleties sometimes pushed aside in parent-child relationships. Truly beautiful.

  9. Jeff Says:

    Wow. Just wow. Your wise words about the importance of being your authentic self are stunningly eloquent. They brought tears to my eyes.

  10. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    You are a wonderful writer Beth! That was truly beautiful. And Benjamin is handsome as hell. I sure thought that car was his because it fits him! He looks like a big success and that’s the first step. I know he’ll get there!

    I was thinking about you today because I read another beautiful essay about autism in the paper today. It was called “Make ‘awareness months’ about personal value too,” by Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. It was in today’s South Jersey Sunday. I saved it for you so if you can’t find it online, e-mail me your address and I’ll mail it to you. It’s beautiful. You really ought to see it.

  11. Sharon Says:

    Hi Beth, Just found your blog coming over from Betsy’s at Joyful Reflections and all I can say is “wow.” Can’t wait to get to know you better. Anytime I see the words Blue Ridge, I’m drawn to them. From one who sees these mountains from the East TN side and calls them “mine” to one who sees them from the Western NC side, I guess we’ll just have to share them, won’t we? I have read your story backwards, but stopped because I want to go back to the beginning and read it like a book! Benjamin is so handsome. We have friends with a son who has Asperger’s Disease. He has just entered his teen years and we’ve watched his transformation as his mom works with him after finally taking him out of our school system for the exact reasons you talk about. Do you think you will be able to return to longer distance hiking or will hubby’s injury prevent that? I look forward to getting to know you better. Sharon

  12. vickilane Says:

    Best wishes for Benjamin — what a handsome young man. And what a beautiful poem

  13. Sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    He looks so handsome. I hope he got the job!

  14. Lindy Says:

    Lovely photo of a handsome young man, and it all matches, Benjamin sure looks at home in this pic.
    Very best wishes for the future, he has come so far, and so have you, and all of us I guess. Bless!

  15. Bikbik & Roro Says:

    Beth! I was just thinking last night that I wanted to write you first thing in the morning and ask how you are. A very happy mother’s day to you too, and that everyday! You are in my prayers you know! *hugs*

  16. Ariel Says:

    It’s amazing to think of how much more meaning that poem has now with what’s happened with you and Benjamin than it did just a while ago, and how much more it speaks of both of your strength even in weakness. I love y’all both so much.

    “For both of us, his transformation in that time has been so profound as to seem like a rebirth. So with his birthday coming up soon, we talked about how wonderfully symbolic it would be if he ended up getting the job around his birthday, making his recovery period a sort of nine-month gestation.” That would indeed be wonderful!

  17. Rider Says:

    Your writing is beautiful, Ms. Blue. It’s enhanced by Benjamin’s picture and by Ariel’s poem. Then Ariel, through her immediately preceding comment, provides a wonderful ending to your posting.

    Now, though it feels like sacrilege, I’m intent on adding a comment of my own.

    What I want to say is that there’s far more to your your writing than beauty. Beauty is its surface appeal. Beyond it, and far deeper, is your intelligence and your goodness and your love.

    Something similar can be seen in Benjamin’s picture. He’s handsome, of course. He’s also good. He’s intelligent. And he’s loving.

    Maybe he got the job in Raleigh. Maybe not. But there’s one thing I’m certain of.

    I’m certain he’s going to be successful.

  18. Benjamin Says:

    Thank you.

  19. eemilla Says:

    I hope that things continue to improve!

  20. Ana Says:

    I have always found so daunting people’s definition of success. I also have always fought back a lot of those definitions. I see your child’s success based on his wonderful, charismatic smile. All I saw was happy he looks. To me, the definition of success will never be the car one drives or the title one possess, but what you have tried to teach Benjamin: to dance to his own beat.

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