I just got back from a trip to Conway, AR (from Tulsa) to take our son, Ben (52 yr. old) out overnight for a visit. Because of other obligations, it wasn’t possible to bring him home this time, so we settled for the shorter version. We have done this before…taken him to a hotel that has a separate bedroom and a divan that makes into a bed. He has always seemed to enjoy that! We always eat dinner out (at Chili’s) and shop at the Mall nearby. (I wish I had taken a video of Ben watching the waitresses come out of the kitchen with the trays of food. Each time, he had that hopeful look on his face that they were bringing HIS. He was patient, but seemed happy for the people that WERE getting theirs—Ha!
This time, I was alone, as it was “tax season” and my husband was busy turning out tax returns. I’ve never taken Ben out overnight by myself. Thankfully, he did GREAT, but it was the taking him back to his living unit this morning that was really hard…for me, at least. Maybe Ben doesn’t think the same way I/we do. Maybe he is used to his living quarters, and just glad to have a short break from it overnight. BUT, for me…I hated just having one evening with him, and not having him come home with me. I love watching him swing on the patio on a beautiful Spring day…seeing him observe the leaves swaying in the breeze (the whole time, wearing that “knowing” smile on his face). The fact that it was Easter weekend, and that tomorrow there would be beautiful music and wonderful preaching at our church that Ben would enjoy was hard for me too. Also, the fact that the living unit was empty except for staff when I took him back in, and that he went immediately into his room by himself added to my “forlorn” feeling. What was he thinking? Did he feel like Scrooge did when he was left at the school in his youth all by himself on a holiday? You’d think that after 49 years…I’d quit wondering about things like that…but the questions never seem to cease. I called from Ozark, AR on my way home and asked how things had gone after I left, and thankfully, all was still calm! That helped a LOT, but didn’t erase my motherly sadness at leaving Ben…since he can’t express what’s he’s feeling. I could drive myself crazy trying to figure it all out, and I KNOW that, and can usually guard against it…but today was HARD! I had to go over in my mind’s eye ALL that we have to be thankful for in the case of Ben’s autism through the years.
- He has a place to live where they love and care about him and take good care of him medically.
- We are healthy enough to continue to see to him and visit him…and usually, to have him home for visits.
- He can walk, take care of many of his own needs, talk some, understand most of what is said to him, He is able to go out to eat…to the hotel, blend in with society (most usually), and knows who we are, and is happy to see us, and NEVER forgets the routine of each place we visit.
- God has been gracious and loving to provide “His friends” at the most-needed times for Ben.
- Ben remembers all his relatives (even though he doesn’t see them often).
- He is a sweet gentleman 99 & 9/10% of the time, and a joy to have around.
- And the list goes on and on of things to be thankful for…I can’t even list them all!
Still, it hurts, and there’s no getting around it. What happened to our baby boy to make this strange malady overtake him and his life…and ours with it? We will probably never know in this lifetime. BUT, when we get to heaven and have our “imperishable” bodies…we will see Ben in his “wholeness” and complete healing. What a joy that will be…to communicate with him with NO earthly limitations!