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  • Writer's pictureErica Pikor

Let Me Get You a Kiss

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“Let me get you a kiss mommy,” Max’s little voice whispers as he leans in and kisses the top of my forehead. I can’t tell you how much those words mean. They melt me from the inside out, and I can honestly say that even when he’s 30, I still won’t correct his grammar.

There was a time when I wasn't sure Max would ever talk. I wasn’t sure if he would say “I love you,” or “Mommy,” or even know how very much he was loved. I was so scared he would feel confused by the world around him and overwhelmed by what he didn’t know.

When I think about it though, I think I was more overwhelmed by what I didn’t know. I didn’t know if Max would learn to read or understand the stories I read to him. I didn’t know if he would ever run and play with the neighborhood kids. I didn’t know if he would play soccer or make friends, or if he would even care about these things.

Would he go to a mainstream school? Would he learn to tie his shoes, hold a pencil, or play silly games? Would he ever date, drive a car, or walk across a stage for graduation? There were so many, many questions, and honestly there still are.

I used to hope and pray that the answer to all of my questions about what Max would be able to do was, “Yes! Yes, he will do these things. He will do All. The. Things!” I used to tie his happiness to what I thought brought people joy, to what had brought me joy.

I thought about all the skills he would need to be able to engage in childhood experiences and all things that made me happy when I was younger. I assumed that if Max didn’t get to do similar things he might not feel the same richness of living. Would he ever know that feeling, the one you have when your soul is rejoicing to the point that it makes your heart sing?

Some of my best memories from when I was younger were when I was getting ready to graduate from 8th grade. I went to a small private school where we got to have a formal graduation ceremony and several big celebratory events that led up to it. I remember feeling so grown up and special. There was a dance, a trip to NY city, and then the cap and gown ceremony. The events meant so much to me, so much so that I can still recall some of the smallest details of each one. I can remember what I wore to who I sat with on the bus ride to the city, right down to what we talked about during the car ride after graduation.

These experiences felt like magic, and looking back they still fill my heart with appreciation and joy. What if Max never had such experiences?

My hopes for Max were tied to expectations, expectations that he would live a life that more closely mirrored my own. I said it was ok that he was different, but my heart was scared that the more different his life was, the less full it would be.

Then one day I watched Max while he was playing. He had a train in one hand and a train track in the other. He stood by himself in the middle of the yard with his face tilted toward the sun. He rocked ever so slightly and repeatedly touched the back of his hand to his mouth like he sometimes does when he’s really happy or excited. He played and vocalized with excitement as he talked to himself, to the wind and to the trees. As he played he started to laugh, the kind of laugh that bubbles up from the deepest part of you and grows until your whole body is shaking with joy. And then it hit me.

He didn’t need special dances or trips to the city. He didn’t need ceremonies or great events with pomp and circumstance. He didn’t need big milestones or fantastic parties to feel true fullness of joy. He seemed to find more happiness in the simple pleasures of life than I found in some of the biggest milestone moments. Not a simple wooden train or train track was taken for granted. Not a breeze gone unappreciated. It seemed this boy who faced more challenges in his first few years of life than I had faced in all of mine felt joy more purely in his soul than us all. All it took was that simple moment in the sun with his trains and the sweet summer sun to make his heart sing.

When he noticed I was watching he stopped and ran to me for a hug. I felt a little bit bad that I had interrupted the moment, but was so incredibly grateful I had the chance to share in it.

The things that used to make me happy pale in comparison to this little boy in front of me. The things that used to matter are nothing when I stop to reflect on the little pleasures all 3 of my boys bring.

My kids have taught me how to appreciate what really matters, but sometimes I think maybe autism has taught me the most of all. Not a single word is taken for granted. Not a moment in the sunshine is too small to savor. Not a second of laughter is too short to embrace.

“Come here Max,” I whisper. “Let me get you a kiss.” You and autism have taught me gratitude like I have never known, and today you, your brothers, and your dad are all I need to make my heart sing.

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Sep 05, 2021

So beautiful! God bless!

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