This blog entry starts with a long,deep breath and the blinking away of a few tears. Maternal emotion is at play as I reflect upon you, my son, my dear Adam, as you turn 17 today. The overused saying of mine “Didn’t I just have you?” swims in my head as I write this and I am trying not to say it, as I know it provokes the usual eye roll from you and your brother, but I really don’t know where time has gone when I look at you guys. I hope your childhood was long enough and filled with all the love, innocence, wonder and fantasy that all children deserve. I hope your memories make you smile more than they do not and with the not so good ones that were our fault, as your parents, know that we are sorry, we hope you recognize we are merely humans and forgive us.
Disney-2011 and 2013
I know you are not able to focus on my wordy entry but I know you will read some of it and look at the photos and recognize the music in the videos and one day someone may read it to you or you might even find the time later on in your life to read this long after I’m gone. This is my medium and much like your music and art and sports, this is how I express myself best and I had to write this for you because I believe it is important to let people know how you feel about them. You know, like that John Mayer song we would listen to. “Say“.
Looking at the photos of you over the years was my inspiration for this piece. I have 17 years of fantastic photos of you, Adam, and I remember everything about the day each of them was taken. One can never pinpoint the moment you go from being a new born baby,
to this person,
all the way to being the young man who towers above me today. But what I do know, is that it has been my great honor and privilege to witness it all. Your journey was and to an extent still is a difficult one. It is not without it’s hiccups, challenges and frustrations and in our case worry and frayed nerves but you have handled it by trusting in my 50/50 promise.
When you were 5 years old, and I was trying to make sense of our family – trying desperately to hold on to all of us as we rode this tidal wave of autism, I promised you that we would come into your world and meet you half way, if you took our hand and came half way into ours. Thanks, Adam, for meeting us head on with courage, trust and determination. People commend us for parenting you but we certainly could not have done any of it if you, my dear boy, were not a willing partner. I told myself if you were happiest staying exclusively in your world, I would find a way to accept and be happy with your choice, but intuition, stubbornness and I’d like to think love, encouraged you to let me, Daddy and Logan into your life and I am ever so grateful you trusted us
and thought us worthy of your curiosity and time. Thank you for teaching us even more than we taught you. By letting us in, you learned that all we wanted was for you to be happy and to include you in our family. Your dad didn’t care about the things anyone said you couldn’t do, he just wanted to give you and Logan a joyful, happy life and he strives to make your lives happy and special every day. I am sure we can all agree that Dad really knows how to make everything fun and you boys are lucky and blessed to be able to call him your father.
I used to believe and say “Adam can beat autism”. I have never been happier to be wrong and cast such a foolish thought aside. I know now that there is nothing to beat. I no longer wish this condition was not a part of our lives. I no longer wish it could leave you because without it you would not be the
elite athlete, artist or musician you have become. Our normal would be much like everyone else’s I suppose and we would be quite mainstream and ordinary. Now that I think about it, none of us in this family is meant to blend in, so in a weird way, your autism has made our lives perfect. If you did not have autism, you might have been ill with some horrible disease or maybe you would have been involved in some dangerous things, I have no idea. But here you are, different, special, talented and perfectly peculiar.
Whenever we took you to speech therapy at the Children’s Hospital in Alberta, your Dad would say, “Look on the bright side, we get to walk past Oncology”. My point (and his) is everyone, every family has something – some struggle, some issue to overcome or live with and your autism, while a challenge for you and for us, has made us better people. It has also made us very tired. worn down and frazzled people at times, but at the end of each day, we are better for it because you are worth it. Your autism has allowed us to meet many fabulous people and has allowed us to see the true colours of others. It has forced Dad, Logan and me to think harder and be more creative, patient and flexible when trying to include you in our world.
I know there were times we got it terribly wrong. I know we (especially me) are hopelessly flawed. I know I have not been the best mother to you sometimes and that I let anger, grief and frustration get the better of me but the one amazing thing that always helped me do better by you (and Logan) is that forgiving, welcoming and loving piece of you that not even the autism can hide. You make me try harder at being the mother I need to be and can be for you guys and I think if you were not autistic I might have taken a lot for granted and we all may have missed out on the great things we get to experience through you.
So Adam, I hope you enjoy this photo story of your life. From the moment you cried your first cry and stopped at the sound of your father’s voice and took his finger, to the first time I looked at you and held you, I knew you would take us down a path like no other. You were alert and strong and ever so calm and even when the storm of autism rolled into our lives, there was something about you that spoke to every instinct I had that urged me never to give up, never settle and to always challenge you and push you and me for more. It was what you needed as much as what I wanted and it is because of that drive we both possess, we are able to snub those who doubt your abilities, those afraid of your autism and who have let their hang ups and fear get in the way of them getting to know the unique and wonderful person you are. Adam, you have shown time and again there is nothing you can’t do and I urge you to keep tasting the sweetness of this world. Go for things head on as you always do and embrace the joyful feeling of accomplishment. You are astonishing and impressive, my son and I know you always will be.
You have worked so hard at living and dealing with life everyday that you have been and will continue to be successful. Thanks for your kind of cool …
for trusting us and trying all sorts of new and sometimes scary things …
for loving the beach, the waves and having no problem getting sandy and gross … Thank you for being open to learning how you can lend a helping hand.
Thanks for showing me Grandad Barsotti lives in you by honing in on that gene that allows you to sit and relax in true Trini/Barsotti style.
Thanks for coming out of your comfort zone and fostering friendships and reaching milestones and going through rites of passage you didn’t have to, but showed us that you could.
We’ve see you through the retainer and the acne and we still suffer through your teen behavior and moods (although less so lately), trying to figure you out the best we can. Thank you for learning how to control your emotions and understanding that we are really trying to help you through the difficult times. Thank you for being open to Grampa teaching you how to drive the boat and the 4-wheelers and for understanding and accepting that while you drive them very well, unlike many teens, it is not possible for you to drive a car.
Thank you for your zen, your great personal taste and love of food …
Thank you for getting to know and loving your brother and for stepping up and being his big brother whenever you could …
Thanks for the moments where you remind us that you are “in there” and at the end of the day, you are just another teenager rockin’ out at a concert.
Thank you for teaching us how to see life through your eyes … for showing us how to take the time to see the details we so often miss. Thanks for dipping your toe, then your foot then jumping into the tumultuous waters of this bizarre world of ours and for letting us enjoy the quirky, alternate world that is yours. Autism makes you, you and it’s okay to dive in there and hang out in it to connect to who you are. Don’t let anyone ever stop you from submerging yourself into your world to comfort and take care of yourself. We are blessed to have you. And anyone who meets you, should be honoured if they get the opportunity to get to know you. You matter to us and the world needs you just as you are. As we have promised to enter your world, I only ask that you continue doing us the kindness of coming out of it and joining us as much as you do now because we enjoy you and love having you in our world. We love your smile. We love your laugh.
We love you. You make our world complete.
Someday, Dad and I will be gone. Where there is birth, there is death and that is why it is so important to live as much life as you can in between. For the days when we are no longer here and you find yourself feeling not so great and maybe a little lost or unsure, remember you are loved. And remember you have Logan. From the womb to tomb, as your mother, I will always love you, the way only a mother can understand. Remember to listen to that tell tale song I would play in your room in Montreal when you were little – “Candle on the Water” beautifully sung by Helen Reddy from the original movie “Petes Dragon“.
I never knew why I needed to pick you up and hold you tight as often as I did and dance around the room with you to a song that had such tear provoking lyrics. Lyrics that speak of someone lost who needs a help…needs a life line. It seems that way before your diagnosis, way before there was anything to be suspicious of, this song made me acutely aware that you would need something more from me. That you would need me to dig deep and fight and advocate for you. Like this song was on that favourite CD of ours like an omen. I knew it then and I know if you listen to this song anytime when I am no longer here, it will remind you that you are never alone and you will feel the comfort and love you seek.
Happy birthday 17 year old. Just like in this other old favourite of ours,
I think I can safely say I am not worried about your future any longer because my boy things did get easier. Things did get brighter and dare I say we got it all done.
Love you forever. So proud and in awe of you. ~ Mom.