The last week of December is always a whirlwind.
There is Christmas Eve and Christmas. Also New Year’s Eve. But we also add Bobby and Catelyn’s birthdays during that week. So, with a couple of get together’s and birthday parties – it is a week of non-stop celebration for us.
I don’t spend too much time on my computer during that week. It is at the end of the day, when we are all sitting around I will do a high-level check of the apps on my phone.
Facebook has this update – “On this day.” It is a reminder of something I have posted on that day in years past. I have found I can’t ignore it, even if I try to. I get this notification – the little red “1” appears to tell me “You have a memory to look back on this day….”
This Christmas I clicked on the notification and was taken back six years ago to the picture I posted for my Christmas greeting to friends and family. Bobby and Catelyn are angels around Declan, the baby Jesus.
It really is a nice picture. My neighbor had suggested it after Declan was born. She had the costumes as she had done the picture with her grandkids when they were little.
I never shared the photo again. My social anxiety took over, and in hindsight, I felt the notion that I was suggesting that Declan was Jesus Christ could gain an eye roll or be found offensive by someone.
But I never deleted the photo either.
I looked at the photo and mentally went back.
Declan was just a couple months old. Bobby was 5, Catelyn 3. I was on a weight loss journey. I was learning the stay at home thing.
I scrolled through my photos on Facebook. I came to the next of Declan.
Still a handful simply because he was an infant. I had no concerns with Declan. I was debating how much longer I would stay home. What job would I turn to next?
I scrolled through my photos again. His two-year birthday photo.
I couldn’t keep him off furniture or the counters. I would find him the strangest of places. We had to lock him in his room at night to keep him safe. Didn’t even occur to me that taking his birthday photo as he ran across the kitchen table was odd.
Then we saw his pediatrician and she alerted me something was wrong and to call for help. He didn’t sleep, he didn’t eat – In short, he didn’t do anything that involved sitting down or stopping.
I scrolled again through my photos and started to see what I couldn’t see at the time.
We took him to Dutch Wonderland, a small amusement park for small kids in Amish Country. We were afraid to let him on any rides thinking he might just jump off.
Then I came to this picture.
When I took his picture and said, “Say cheese!” He made the sounds, “Aaaaaa Eeeeeee!” And then mimicked me taking his photo.
He was diagnosed with autism and all those things that my husband and I asked each other, “why does he do that…..” made more sense.
The good news, to me, is that as I scrolled again into the newer photos I saw the smiles. The more support he got, the more he smiled.
So I went back to the beginning again. There were a lot of things that I took for granted with this photo. There were things that I just thought were going to unfold. I thought his path was going to mimic that of his older brother.
Life didn’t unfold like I had planned. Instead, there were months and years that were the hardest I had known. I began to realize Declan had a mountain of challenges. I had a lot of reservations and lists of things that “Declan couldn’t do.”
As I scrolled I thought of those immensely hard days. And saw glimmers of light as I went.
ON THIS DAY took me back, But it helped me see a big picture.
Now, I still have a list. But it isn’t things Declan can’t do. It is a list of things he CAN DO with a little help. Or things he will do, just not yet.
I see all his accomplishments and know with a little love and support, Declan will always do his very best.