the crocus

I have too much to write. Too many thoughts hurdling off in wildly different directions in my head.

Too much urgency. Mr. President, PLEASE. Anything. Dye the damn dog blue. At this point I’ll take it. Just a sign. PLEASE, sir, we need this.

Too much angst. Budgets slashed and tensions rising. Please, school districts, do the right thing. If not because it is a community’s moral responsibility to care for its most vulnerable citizens then simply for the dollars and cents. If you cut special education resources too close to the bone this year, what happens in 2013 and 2014? What happens is that you pay out exponentially whatever monies you thought you’d saved because our kids have fallen so much farther behind and fulfilling your legal obligation to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education for ALL students is ever more difficult because the needs of our kids have become ever greater because you thought you could get by on a shoestring but it simply doesn’t work that way. Yes, I know that was a run on sentence. No, I don’t care.

Too much autism. The lead-up to April’s awareness blitz, always a double-edged sword for those of us whose lives are steeped in autism. Friends sending articles, “Hey, Jess. Did you see this?’ Yes I see it every day. But thank you. By God, THANK YOU for seeing it too.

Too many stories. An incredible opportunity that fell into my lap yesterday. A chance to speak to the next generation of educators. To talk to them about loving a child with autism and what that means in our family. What it HAS TO mean for them.

The funny and wondrous things that came out of my girls’ mouths this weekend. Brooke telling me that “Jesus is watering the flowers and the flowers are watering Jesus” or Luau and I overhearing Katie asking, “Um, Brooke? What did you wipe with?”

But as always, time is short. The clock ticks ominously over my head and I needed to be in the shower ten minutes ago. The rest of the week is full to bursting with activity – Brooke’s birthday and party, Katie’s autism awareness mural painting and pizza party - their mama doing her best impression of a chicken with its head cut off.

And in the middle of all of it, like a crocus bursting through the snow, there are moments of stunning PROGRESS. Of undeniable HOPE that simply must be shared.

This one was an e-mail. Not about Brooke, not for Brooke, but BY Brooke. A child whose sole interactions not so long ago consisted of half-word utterances designed to illicit a response. Constantly frustrated, pleading for her partner to finish the word. Sum total, that was her ‘conversation’. A child who would not hold a crayon to draw. A child for whom reading (or writing) was simply unimaginable.

Last night, I showed her an e-mail that I’d gotten from an inclusion specialist at her school who is out on maternity leave. Attached was a picture of her gorgeous baby girl – all ripe cheeks and big, beautiful eyes. I asked Brooke if she’d like to write something back to her. Without a word, she grabbed my laptop and perched it on her legs. Her hands hovered over the keys, her little pointers wiggling with anticipation.

I told her that she would need to say, “Hi, it’s Brooke,” so that Ms S would know that it was her. Her eye brows knitted together as she said, “I would do it MY way.” My heart soared. Her way. There’s nothing I’d like better, baby.

And then she began to type. It took her nearly twenty minutes. Bedtime was overdue. I didn’t have the heart to make her stop.

She paused in the middle to ask me a question. “Is the baby a girl or a boy?” I don’t have to tell you how big this is. I know I don’t. You’ll see why she asked. You’ll see why I was nearly jumping out of my skin. And you’ll see why giving up is never an option. Progress happens. Sometimes when you least expect it. Sometimes, just when it feels like the snow will never melt and the Spring will never come, that insistent little crocus comes up underfoot.

Hi it’s me Princess Brooke YOU ARE SO CUTE I LOVE YOUR DOTTER

LOVE,

BROOKE

And in its presence, anything feels possible.
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45 thoughts on “the crocus

  1. What an awesome show of progress!!!! Yeah, Brooke! I needed to read this this morning because even though giving up is not an option, I sure wish it was an option today. I will keep pushing, keep trying, keep going. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. DOAM, I love your “dotter” too:) FYI, NBA is acknowledging autism awareness week by sporting the blue pins, Celtic coaches proudly wore them Sunday evening! Go C’s!!!

  3. This made my day!! Like the song “The Rose” – “Just remember in the winter – far beneath the bitter snow – lies the seed, that with the sun’s love, in the spring – becomes the Rose”…….

  4. Not a cell phone, but iPad? You are a writer- perhaps that too is where she can find solace, formulate her thoughts and find her voice… You’re looking at a whole new avenue of communication for her, my friend… :)

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this. Thank you to you and your family for festering hope inside our community. Thank you for helping to make the meltdowns a little easier to take. Thank you for bringing tears to my eyes, raising up emotions of happiness, joy, as well as letting us share your trials and tribulations. Thank you so much for raising awareness and advocating for our children (all of you!!!)…. Light it up blue… For us, for the club, for the community, for those who haven’t joined us yet, and for those who never will.

    I know this is horribly written, but it has been a long couple of days. I couldn’t let this one pass without saying something.

  6. When you least expect it. Expect the unexpected from that amazing little princess. This is just what I needed this morning after an evening and night of sleepless H-E double hockey sticks. Thank you, Brooke, for making me smile. And to you, Jess, for capturing the moment.

  7. Just amazing….go Brooke!!! And Jess…keep believing…and LOVED the turn the dog blue comment…hilarious!

  8. Oh Jess, I have tears…tears of joy as I read this. Hooray for Princess Brooke! Hooray for hope!! Thank you Jess for sharing this, for reminding me that even in the midst of the storms, the flowers still bloom.

  9. Wow, just wow. That email is HUGE. Finding something that was spontaneously written is like seeing a shooting star around our house. Infrequent, but treasured every single time. Love it!

  10. That is so cool! My 12 y/o daughter took to texting like a fish to water. She’s always asking to borrow our phones (no she won’t have her own for a while yet). It’s a savior in a noisy waiting room. She even texts her brother on their Nintendo’s. btw, little secret here….her feelings are expressed via text much more easily than verbally, it’s been a great tool for us.

  11. My son said his first words two days ago “there it is”. The sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard, “there it is.” Our children are miracles!

  12. WOOOOOOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! So very big!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rejoicing here and doing a bit of a jig with my fingers across the keyboard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Can you tell I am excited?!?)

  13. Hi Jess,

    After reading your blog for two years and never commenting I suppose I owe you one big THANK YOU!

    I have so much to thank you for, not the least of which is this gem today (made me smile… for quite a while). In boiling down a sea of thoughts: my world is a richer better place in no small part due to your work (and others who write, advocate, and scream at the top of their lungs until someone listens), so THANK YOU!

    I can only hope we see some blue April 2nd at the white house. What I can promise is that I will see to it that our company will be participating this month; with blue banners and links on our website, getting some technology in the hands of at least a few local families that can use it, and getting as many people involved in on the ground interaction as I possibly can. That last one is the biggie as it is the only way I see to really create any kind of lasting change. It’s not much, but maybe just maybe we can get empathy over pity that lasts a little beyond the 31 days we have in April.

    The best to you and your family

    -Chris

    P.S. I know you must be swamped, but if you could send me a very short email granting permission to link to your letter to the President on our website I can get it up (Company policy regarding use of non employee work)

  14. You have all come miles in that snow to find the little crocus and you have miles to go, but the trip has made you stronger and sweeter as you cover the distance. Brooke has found her voice and so have you my love……
    Love,
    Dad

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