My daughter is Autistic. Four little words that can hurt my heart in a way nothing else can. Words that I never can get use to. Four little words that killed my dreams for my child, at least that’s what I use to think.
How can I fully express how I felt on the day I realized my precious, long awaited, baby girl was not all I hoped she would be. She had ten toes and ten fingers perfect in every way that I could see. It was the unseen imperfection that would crush me with the weight of it. Imperfection is a harsh word. We know that none of us are perfect, yet this is the standard we are all judged by. When we see people who we perceive as imperfect, we criticize, we judge and we decide based on that judgment if they are worthy of our attention. That was me. Not something I am proud of, but it was true.
I didn’t know at the time, that we could be glorious in our imperfections. That it is the imperfections that make us perfectly perfect. Would my friends know me if I could do math without a calculator? If I could cook a gourmet meal? If I could remember something you told me last week? They would not, those traits are me. They make up who I am. This is the lesson my daughter Emma taught me.
In my processing of her diagnosis, I thought all my dreams for her were gone. I was sad, mad and hurt. How could this be? But my Emma would not have any of that. She pushed, pulled and dragged me to a new way of thinking. A new way of looking at things. She taught me that my dreams for her had not died, they just changed.
She teaches me everyday the meaning of perseverance. That it’s not how well you do something, it’s that you did it at all. That sometimes you just do something that you love even though people might think you’re not good at it, just because YOU love it.
In all her imperfections, she is the person I wish I could be. She never says an unkind word about anyone, she is never afraid to try anything, she loves you in all your imperfections – unconditionally. She forgives without question and enjoys the little things in life with such joy.
I am a better person for knowing her. I’m not saying it is always easy. It’s not. Some days seem endless and fraught with unseen problems. But those days are lost in the memory of the sweet times.
I have had two kinds of grief in my life. The first was the loss of my husband. This grief is powerful and evens out over time so that it is not so all consuming. The second is my grief for Emma. This is a grief I face every day. I must fortify myself against the onslaught. I hurt for Emma when people call her stupid, my heart breaks a little more each time she asks why she has no friends. In my grief I feel sorry for myself. Then I think of Emma. She has to deal with this too and does so with more grace then I can seem to muster. I stop to ponder how I could have even thought for a moment that she was imperfect. I would not change one thing about my imperfectly perfect girl. No lost dreams here, just new possibilities that I never even considered.