I have used the story of Nicky, his successful transition, and my journey by his side to create a support forum for those who share our journey with autism. Because of this, we have been blessed with so much support in return, one that I see daily through social media and the friendships I’ve made.
I wouldn’t change a moment of it. But tonight there’s a part of me that rarely emerges; the part that yearns for privacy.
I hope you don’t mind. Nicky isn’t going to know it’s his actual birthday, so tomorrow will be low-key. We have a big party planned for him on Wednesday. Tomorrow I will go to his house with a birthday cake, where a small group of us will sing to him and light candles – that’s his very favorite thing…we could do it every day and he would be a happy guy! And I will tell him how much we love him.
I will see his beautiful face light up, and just like every year I will allow myself a few moments to remember his arrival and reflect on his life. It’s something that is too painful to spend too much time doing unless I purposefully focus on the most joyful times. There are plenty of those times, more than the sad moments, but as humans I’m afraid our natural tendency is to hold the traumas at the forefront of our minds. Many years ago I learned the way to hold onto joy is in the moment.
Tomorrow I will love Nicky in that moment. I’ll wish him a Happy Birthday on Facebook, for sure. But the moments will be private, joyful, nostalgic, beautiful, and among the dearest I’ll ever hold in my heart.
But back to the story you all know…
If I could have just one wish in honor of Nicky’s birthday, it would be that every child and family can say what we can: tomorrow our child turns 22, and we’re not worried about the future!