Friday, May 1, 2009
I write this note not to mark any kind of anniversary, though coincidentally it'll be four years ago this month we found out you had autism. But this is meant to be a happy letter, so I'll set that aside for now.
The reason I was moved to write you was because of something extraordinary that happened today. On the surface, it was just a bike ride. I've taken you on many of those already, and hopefully by the time you read this, I will have taken you on many more.
But this one felt different. It was just you, me and the glorious trails in our Reston community. I let you lead the way, and did you ever! I thought for certain on this humid day you'd tire out after half a mile, maybe three-quarters of a mile. But you kept going. And going. And going.
All told, we were gone for more than two hours. And in that time, I finally got to see glimpses of your personality that filled me with so much hope for the future.
I saw determination in the way you pedaled no matter how steep the hill. I saw kindness in the way you waited for your slow-poke father as he tried to keep up on his bike. I saw a competitive streak in the way you'd cut me off, then glare back at me. I saw awareness in the way you always waited to cross a busy street.
And most important, I saw happiness in the way you reveled in doing something you love to do.
But I can assure you, it's nothing like the happiness your father felt this afternoon. I've struggled for so long with the depressing notion that there were certain things we might miss out on (too many to list here now). So it was tremendously comforting to know that we could still have moments like this, when the autism melts away and we can be like every other father and son who share a special kind of love.
I know you love us, and hopefully when you read this someday, you'll be able to fully express that. It's just that times like today are so fleeting that I can't help but savor every last second.
Anyway, maybe that's the larger lesson from today: Embrace life, much like you embraced those trails this afternoon, because there's only so much daylight...
With great love and affection,