It’s been awhile since I've written to you. I’ve made it my business to write about you many times, and whether you’ll approve of everything I’ve written, and shared with your adoring public, is still unclear. I figure, worst case scenario, we’ll share a therapist someday and you’ll have ample opportunity to tell me off or thank me for my forward-thinking, and exceptionally thoughtful prose. At least that’s how I choose to imagine it playing out.
Anyway, this letter is for you. You, my seven and three-quarter year old doll, the sunshine to my rain, the sweet to my sour, the beauty to my…well…fair for my age. But seriously Kate, I love you so hard. Let’s just get that clear right away. And you know what, I know you love me, too. I really, really, do.
You won’t remember the first few years when I couldn’t get my nose out of an autism book long enough to take a good look at my littlest girl and appreciate her for every little quirky move she made. There were times when you couldn’t look at me, or answer to your name and it was crushing. You often ran off and never, ever looked back to see if we were following you. To be fair, you’ve held onto to a form of this fearlessness that terrifies me to this day (Oakley, your loyal service dog has helped with this), but back then, I felt like you didn’t need me or didn’t want me, and it hurt. I wasn’t yet able to understand that it wasn’t about ‘our relationship’ but more about your purely innocent trust of all things. I know, I know, I have this annoying way of making things about myself. Let’s explore this more in future therapy. So, I read and I read and then I read some more because I was going to understand autism, what made my little girl tick, at any cost.
I guess I felt like I was failing you if I didn’t figure out as much as I possibly could on the subject. I realize now that it was just my way of coping, and not very well, at that. Over the years I’ve found other ways to cope. Writing helps, and food, and art, oh and food, and wine, and of course, food. What did I have to cope with you ask? In your eyes, and my own, I have the sweetest, funniest, most amazing little girl who happens to have autism. In fact, some might argue that the autism made her exactly who she is. So, what is there to ‘cope’ with? In the beginning it was fear of the unknown because ‘autism’ can be such a scary word for new parents. Then later on it became anger at how misunderstood you might always be. And now it’s changing because I’ve spent the last seven years watching you hurdle mountains they said you’d never climb and more importantly, I’ve watched you do it without a thought to any other possible outcome. You, with your handsome service dog by your side, have rocked it.
You’ve come so far, Miss Kate; and not just in your taste in music (remember the ‘Wiggles’ years? You’re making friends, now. It was hard to imagine that my powerhouse little blonde tornado could ever slow down enough to make a friend. But you did it, Baby. You didn’t change who you are or pretend, because that is simply not an option for you. You owned your silliness, and your never-ending energy and your Kanye-esque confidence and you found your people.
I’m proud of you Kate. You’ve taught me so much, and I only hope to someday return the favor.
All my love,
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Happy Mail to:
27 Wellington Row
Saint John, NB
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Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)