Tag Archives: trust

What if she never speaks?

20 Jul

As I stood in the hallway, talking and listening to this Italian mother speak about her 14 year old, blind, autistic daughter Eliza, one thought kept racing relentlessly through my mind. I had one question that I needed to ask this mom about the daughter that looked, and acted so much like my own. I wanted a tiny glimpse into the future of this Italian world that seemed to mirror my own.

“Does your daughter speak now?” I asked her quietly, trying to hide the desperation from my voice.

“No. No she doesn’t.” She replied, quite clearly seeing the pain seep into my eyes.

In that moment, in those brief few seconds that passed between us, the reality of what we both were feeling, the dreams that we had for our girls, were spoken without any words from our lips. They were spoken between the souls of one heartbroken mother to another.

She knew that when she reveled that truth and her reality to me, that she was giving me an answer that I didn’t want to hear.

I didn’t want to hear it.

Do you know what I wanted to hear? Of course you do.

I wanted to hear that her daughter had learned to talk. I wanted to hear that after years of silence, 14 years of silence…that she could now talk about what was going through her mind.

I desperately wanted to hear that one day my daughter would learn how to talk to me.

But that wasn’t what had happened.

As she began telling me the story of her daughter’s communication struggles, I began to feel more and more uncomfortable. I began to feel more and more angry. I began to see more and more similarities between our children.

And I didn’t like what I heard.

Her daughter had also learned to talk when she was 2. She had also stopped when she was 3. She had started speaking again right about the age that Oli is now…

And then she stopped.

She just simply quit speaking.

One day it was there, and the next day it just wasn’t.

Poof.

BOOM!

There it was.

One of my biggest fears had once again been dropped at my feet.

When Oli began speaking again a few months ago I couldn’t believe it. After 3 long years of complete silence I couldn’t believe my ears when she started to say a few words again. With every new word she spoke the fear of what she wouldn’t say the next day crept in the back of my mind. The questions of “What if she doesn’t talk today?” came with each morning sunrise. The fear of “Will today be the last day that I hear her speak?” came with each nightfall.

And here stood this mother telling me that all of my fears that I so successfully banished to the back of mind, might one day come true.

What now? What do I do with this information?

After a few days of living within that fear and those terrible alternate realities that my mind likes to create; the ones where everything goes wrong and I am helpless again struggling against a monster that I could never hope to defeat, I realized that I was projecting a future upon Oli that I have no control over. I was sentencing her to a life of silence without any knowledge or proof that this is what would happen. I was letting myself believe once again in a hopeless situation that has absolutely no reason to be hopeless.

Oli is not Eliza. Oli is Oli.

What she will or won’t do has nothing to do with what another child has or has not done. Even though that other child is so similar to her. She still is an individual. One capable of fulfilling any potential, achieving any goal and overcoming any obstacle that lies before her.

Oli is Oli.

I have said it before, she will do what she will do regardless of how much time I spend worrying about it. Regardless of how much time I spend crying over it.

So I took my own advice.

I spoke the words to myself that I have spoken to other parents about their children.

As her mother, one of my most important jobs is to never stop believing in her.

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Can You See Me? I’m Here In The Darkness. (Part 1)

22 Feb

I had the AMAZING opportunity to eat dinner last night at the Blind Café. Dinner and music in the complete darkness.

“Hold on to the shoulder of the person standing in front of you. Okay. Everyone ready to experience the Blind Café?” The woman at the front of the line leading us into the darkness has an advantage. An advantage that normally, in the sighted world she lives in, is a disadvantage. The woman in the black dress, holding a long white cane…is blind.

I quickly introduce myself to the woman in front of me and hold tightly to her slim shoulder.

The line begins to move. I walk behind a heavy white curtain and am immediately plunged into pitch blackness. As I took my first blind steps into the café my heart started pounding in my chest. I didn’t know where I was and I didn’t know where I was going. I simply had to trust the woman in front of me and hope that I didn’t walk into anything or fall over.

“Watch your head!” the woman in front of me suddenly shouts.

“What? Where?” I am ducking my head and swerving to avoid an unseen attacker.

“Left? Right? Where is it? What am I watching out for?”

No details are given. Those were the beginning moments that made me acutely aware of the importance of descriptive details when speaking to Oli about her surroundings.

We all follow in line until we reach our table. Our blind waiter begins to help each of us find our seat. We were told that our food would already be waiting for us on the table. I cautiously sit down and move my hands across the table.

What am I touching?

I have no idea.

There’s some squishy stuff to my left at 10 o’clock. There is a bowl of little balls and a short, fat, cone shaped object beneath the squishy stuff. The plate in front of me has a large, papery thing on it with a stick poking out of its center. Above that is more wet squishy stuff on little flat circles. Someone at my table said that there was bread in the middle of the table. I slowly reach my hand out and above my plate. I find more little balls. I move to the right. What is this? It’s slimy and wet. Now my fingers are dripping with a slimy oily substance. Where is my napkin? Did they give us napkins? Do we have utensils?

I search to the right of my plate and thankfully find my napkin. I also find a plastic fork. I contemplate using my fork to try and stab at some of my food and then quickly realize how pointless that seems. It will be way more efficient to use my fingers. Beside how will I know what I am eating unless I actually pick it up with my fingers? I find the bowl of little balls again and search for the cone shaped thing. I find it and decide to pick it up and smell it. My senses should be enhanced right? Since my vision is gone. Wrong. Total myth! I can’t smell it at all. It smells like something, but I have no idea what? It smells like my fingers and whatever that slimy stuff was.

After touching everything on my plate and probably everything on my neighbor’s plate too, I couldn’t tell where my food stopped and hers started, I decided to taste something. I find the squishy stuff on the flat circles and pick one up. I identified the circles to be crackers. I could feel the salt and circles. I raise it to my lips and take an apprehensive bite. Olives! Aaaccckkkk!! I HATE olives. The squishy stuff was some kind of spread. I don’t know what else was in it, but I could taste olives. I put the cracker down. Do I have a drink somewhere around here to wash the nasty olive taste from my mouth? I feel my way a little farther to my left, past my plate. I find a water bottle. Of course, I didn’t know it was water until I took a sip.

Moving on.

I’m really getting brave with my hands now. I find the bowl of balls again. I pick one up and pop it in my mouth. A grape. Yay! Win!

I pick up another ball. I think it’s another grape. Wrong. Olive! What-Is-With-The-OLIVES!! Tricky, sneaky, blind café.

FYI. An olive feels like a grape.

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