Re-cycling grief

As I sip my coffee, I look out the window at my son enjoying his new cap gun. He’s been talking about getting one for weeks and was so excited to pick one out. He looks up to make sure I’m watching, as he’s still very much in the “Look, Mom – look at me. Check this out!” stage. Funny how he doesn’t tire of it, though it brings out a mixture of emotions in me. Some “feel good” ones, knowing I have that special place in his heart and he wants to share meaningful moments with me. Some not-so-good ones, though I’m ashamed to admit them. One can be impatience because I’ve been “on-call” watching his play for, well, twenty years. Of course that ushers in guilt that I can even voice such an emotion, though fortunately as I look at him and the joy he’s experiencing it is a fleeting one. So the overwhelming emotion of grief that has been my companion for a good part of the last twenty years re-cycles once again as it makes its presence known.

What are other twenty year olds doing? Other twenty year olds are attending college, starting new jobs, dating, driving cars, and as excited as they are about those things, I’m sure cap guns are probably among the furthest interests from their minds at this point.

And hidden deep inside, there’s an awareness of that within Jordon. As much as he needs a world of black-and-white rules to make sense of life and navigate with the smallest measure of certainty, he lives various shades of gray. In between a boy and a man. Higher functioning autism in some ways, lower in others. He hid the cap gun until we reached the register because “other guys my age don’t buy these, do they, Mom?” He lives a mixture of twenty year old emotions and eight year old interests blended with a mixture of in-between understanding.

How can I say that about him? As I was dusting his dresser, I uncovered various pictures he had ripped from magazines – pictures of older teen guys and girls together, pictures of Dodge chargers, and pictures of K’Nex toys and transformer heroes and Veggie Tales. Truly a picture of the mixture in his life.

The grief recycles throughout each season and milestone, often catching me at inopportune moments as I want to be happy for him with his new toy, yet tears build up behind my eyes and inside my heart.

But…..then I catch myself. There are some twenty year olds who are buying REAL guns, and not just for hunting game. There are some without mothers to watch carefully and enjoy their moments of joy. Some have no mothers around at all, and have to navigate it all alone. Some twenty year olds are driving Dodge chargers while intoxicated or have girlfriends that they treat poorly. And, no, they’re not looking for Mom’s watchful or proud eye to share the moment with. In fact, the moms of those sons may be grieving for another reason, wishing they could experience a moment of joy with their son. Maybe even a moment like I have with mine.

And so I emerge from the shadows into the sunlight as the cycle gives way to thankfulness for what God has given to me and the presence of His companionship. Rays of prayers for other mothers and other sons who don’t share what I have seek out corners of my heart. Though our children may be in different stages or places in life, hopefully we share the same heart. A mother’s heart which brims with prayer, hope, and love.

8 thoughts on “Re-cycling grief

  1. Cindy, thank you so much for being so brave, so honest and so kind. I love hearing about the complex and wonderful way that Jordon is built and the joy that he brings to your heart. 🙂

    1. Most days I’m not feeling brave, but love to be able to see through Jordon’s eyes. And see him through God’s. That enables me to face life for him and enjoy the boy-man God made him to be! Thanks for your thoughts, Kelli!

  2. This is the heart I admire so much in you. Grieving and celebrating at the same time. That is joy. Finding the presence and beauty of God’s plan and surrendering yourself to His surpassing wisdom even when it feels hard to embrace.
    Thank you for your vulnerable and humble expression. Thanks for the glimpse of your grief and your joy, helping us all to process our own.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Christie. You certainly are an inspiration as you celebrate each individual, no matter what their dis-ability. We certainly all have them, some are just more apparent or flagged than others, but all lead us to the Cross, don’t they! Thank you for seeing Jordon through eyes of grace and truth.

  3. Hi,

    Your blog was recommended to me by a mutual friend, and I am so glad she took the time to do it! Thank you for sharing this. As mom to an 11 year old boy who has autism, I am thinking of him needing his stuffed animal to get to sleep or deep down still believing in Santa although he knows his peers no longer do, and how he still gets excited when there is a glue bottle in sight that has dried glue he can peel off. 🙂

    Although seeing these things is bittersweet, I definitely take joy in the fact that he can share both his thoughts and feelings about these things with me, which a few years ago I wasn’t sure would ever happen.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing, and take care,

    1. Trish, I don’t know you, but there’ a ‘knowing’ that is deeper than having met you. I can identify with you and meet you in heart through your words.
      There are times Jordon’s incessant (and perseverative) chatter can be maddening because I lose my own thoughts while processing his with him. And then I think, there are those on the non-verbal side of the spectrum who cannot utter an intelligible word and caught in the prison of not being able to communicate. How very frustrating for them and for their families/caregivers! So it does put things into perspective.
      Would love to hear your story, as I hear your heart. Blessings, sister!!

    1. Thank you for reading the blog and for your kind comment. And for your blessing!! I appreciate it and feel so blessed in so many ways. I would also re-turn a blessing to you and yours.

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