Closer

Friday night I stumbled through the front door… exhausted.

I looked at the clock.

5:34 p.m.

Hmmmm. That’s the exact time my daughter was born.

What can I say? I remember random things.

This was easily the busiest and most stressful week I’ve had in recent memory. I just wanted to put on my jammies, watch some mindless television, and eventually muster the energy to make some homemade alfredo…and relax.

My saint mother and teenage daughter were sitting together in the media room watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls. Our highly and annoyingly energetic dog was running joy-circles in the carpet, so happy to see me she couldn’t contain herself.

I have that effect on many.

I looked over at my tween son. He was rifling through a giant stack of Disney movies, feverishly scripting their covers and refusing to acknowledge my existence.

If you have a child with autism, you understand my pain.

I said, “Hey buddy, how was your day?”

He didn’t even look up, as he tersely said “No thank you.”

Translation: Go away, woman.

This is a daily rejection I’ve grown accustomed to. But I’ll get into that later.

I set down my bag of groceries from the market, and greeted my sweet mom and smiling daughter. They were drinking chocolate malts and wrapped up in quilts, which I found to be pretty cute.

And ironic.

They let me rant about my stressful week and how happy I was that it had finally come to a close.

I went to the kitchen and cradled my newly purchased bottle of Meiomi like a lover.

I was ready for some serious down time.

Mom had already taken the kids out to dinner, so I had some time to just collapse and decompress.

(I would be lost without that woman.)

Over the course of the next 2 hours, after mom excused herself to go home to my dad, I poured a glass of wine and snuggled in to watch Gilmore Girls with my very own Rory.

She and I are on the precipice of actually being the Gilmore Girls, with just as much sarcasm and our very own little Kirk. We try to find the humor in our lives and especially Zion’s antics, but it isn’t always there.

Enter Friday night.

He never sits in the same room with us. Ever. I can summon him a thousand times, and oh yes, he will come running. But once he learns that I actually want him to stay with us, he skips off immediately.

So Friday night I called his name. He was in front of me within seconds. I said, “Hey buddy, have a seat,” as I patted the empty couch space next to me.

He said, “No thank you,” and ran back into the living room.

Twenty minutes later, my next attempt was more brazen.

I said, “Zion, come here please.”

3 seconds, front and center.

I said, “Come here please, give me a kiss.”

He immediately looked constipated.

He scootched slowly toward me, bent down oh-so-hesitantly, and gave my cheek the fastest peck-kiss you have ever seen, as though my cheek were a flaming gas burner on a stove.

And as soon as he was there, he was gone again.

We lather-rinse-repeated this 412 times that night. And he never gave in.

But neither did I.

We do this dance every day.

Every. Single. Day.

It is easy to get my feelings hurt. And for years, believe me, I did. But I have learned so much about love from this child…about unconditional love.

Zion comes to me for many things.

Food.

Jammed VCRs. (I’m aware it’s 2017, but yes… we have one.)

Applesauce foil lids.

Dog poo on his big toe.

But he doesn’t come to me for affection.

He just doesn’t.

And I always want him closer than he is willing to get.

He just doesn’t like to be snuggled. Or loved on.

For years I took this soooooo personally.

But now I believe that Zion was given to me as my son on purpose. I was incredibly selfish before I had children. I needed to learn about unconditional love. And that when you love someone, you give your all for them, without expecting anything in return.

Sure, reciprocity is the dream.

But with unconditional love, reciprocity can’t be expected. It can’t be a condition of the love being given.

Otherwise it wouldn’t be unconditional.

This kind of love is hard. And I’m getting better at it. But I don’t beat myself up too hard about not being able to dole out unconditional love.

God is the only one who has it down perfectly.

So Friday night about 9pm, after I had long given up on Zion, he sauntered in and just stared at me for a few minutes.

I looked at him as long as I could without speaking, until finally he said, “I love you mama.”

I scooped him up and gave him a huge hug, and when I did he squeezed me back. Hard.

And then almost as soon as it happened, it was over. He wiggled away, and back to the other room.

So this is the way I choose to process moments like these:

His hypersensitivity to stimulation makes it impossible to stay in a hug, because it is just too much to process.

It isn’t that Zion is incapable of love. He is overwhelmed by it.

The love that he feels is so deep, that if he were to stay in an embrace, he might explode.

Think about the way you feel when you hold your child. Or your lover. Or your best friend.

The love that you feel in your heart is like a fire. An all consuming fire.

You want that person closer.

Now multiply that feeling times 100.

That is how I believe Zion feels. Only he doesn’t want you closer. He wants you so much further away.

It’s too much to process.

So he pulls away.

My son has taught me how to love unconditionally. And that while love can take a million different forms, our love is special because it is unique.

Sometimes love doesn’t look like love or feel like love, if you’re not paying attention. Discounting it simply because it doesn’t look like someone else’s love, would be robbing yourself of a wonderful blessing.

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  One thought on “Closer

  1. Linda Pope
    January 29, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    It takes time to learn, understand this of autism. So glad you are learning along with Zion. Love you. Prayers

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