Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thank You - An open letter to Lauren and Lindsay

From the moment Carter entered this world, I knew he would forever dance to the beat of his own drum. 

From the moment the word "autism" entered our lives, that drum beat suddenly became foreign, erratic, and terrifying. 

I am a planner. I seek control in every aspect of my life and I do fear the unknown. For the longest time I questioned whether God had taken leave of his senses when he gave me a child who was a complete mystery...not to mention a challenge. Don't get me wrong, I love Carter fiercely and would move the heavens and earth for him, but I have often wondered if I were truly capable of meeting all of his needs. In fact, his needs are so numerous and overwhelming that I sometimes struggle to look past them and simply see my precious child, hiding behind the wall that his differences have built around him. 

When I enrolled him in soccer, I never expected him to actually participate. He hates crowds. He hates noise. He has asthma and wears ankle braces. To me it felt like just one more futile attempt at molding him into something he is not. His big brother lives and breathes soccer so I thought I should at least give him the same opportunity.

His first game, he cried and was scared, and we weren't sure if he would play. Between the loud music and the people swarming around him, I can't imagine what a sensory overload that must have been for him. Imagine my surprise when he wiped his tears away and finally ran out on the field. Since that day, Carter has been nothing but excited about soccer. 

Today was his third game. He was still slow to leave my side, still flinched at the music, and still looked at his teammates like they're aliens when they tried to talk to him. He still runs alongside his team rather than really with them and only kicks the ball when he is specifically instructed to...but today was different as well. There's this thing that Carter does when he is excited. It's almost as if there is so much joy flowing through his tiny body that his arms start to flap and he skips rather than runs. He started doing that as soon as it was his turn to play today. When the music played over the loudspeaker during timeouts, you could literally see the stress of his environment melt away and he started to dance right there in the middle of the field. The look on his face was blissful and absolutely carefree. 

I cried tears of joy the entire game. 

Thank you, Lauren and Lindsay. 

Thank you for being part of an organization that spreads the love and joy of Christ - that accepts and welcomes my child who has difficulty finding his place everywhere else. Thank you for loving him at first sight, for your enthusiasm and encouragement. Thank you for every single time you choose him to throw or kick the ball back in-bounds because he jabbers so excitedly about those few seconds hours after the game ends. Thank you for your patience, and your decision to volunteer your time and energy to others. Thank you for bringing happiness to my son. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity, for one hour every Saturday, to sit back and watch Carter simply be himself. I've never seen anything more beautiful. 

Thank you.

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