Beautiful Butterfly

Dear Hunter,

I know we’ve never met, but I read about your mama. I felt very sad inside, like something was spinning and turning.

First thing I want to say is your mama, she loved you. That is the most important thing to keep in your mind and your heart during the hard days ahead.

She fought for you, and learned from you. See, even though you are only six, you are a great teacher. Most people with autism are, you know.

Six is a good age. Six is when things start to happen. You can maybe pour your own cup of milk, and build a tall sandcastle at the beach.

For you, six will be an age you’ll likely never forget.

I imagine you have already seen and heard things a little boy should never see, or hear.

My son Jack has autism.

His autism looks like this: he moves his body a lot and he has fast thoughts and sometimes, he can’t tell me what he wants.

For Jack, this is very frustrating. The words swirl and dance above his head, and he usually needs a minute or two to see them, and speak them.

When he was six, Jack learned about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. It is a big word called metamorphosis. Basically, science tells us a butterfly lays its teeny tiny egg on a leaf. The egg turns into something called larvae, which grows into a caterpillar.

After about ten days, the caterpillar eats lots and lots of good food. Then it curls into a cocoon and rests, quiet-like, in the darkness.

A lot of people ask why a woman stays with a man who hurts her body.

But I think a better question is, why does he keep up with the hurting? Why does he do it over and over after promises and tears and the apologizing?

I think this would be good to know. It’s what I’d ask, if I had the chance.

Life may feel a little scary right now. This is perfectly okay. When we say goodbye to someone we love with our whole heart, everything looks a little grey and dull. Over time, the brilliant orange and green and pink make their way back again.

When the days seem very hard and long, think of your mom. Remember the way she hugged you tight before bed, and how she brought you swimming at the pool and the sun shined yellow against the blue water.

Remember her smile, and let it light up the darkness.

You know, inside of his cocoon the caterpillar isn’t just resting, or digesting his food. He is healing.

This is my hope for you. I hope the world around you can stop spinning for a moment, and give you the space to rest, and to heal.

Much love,
Jack’s Mom

If you are hurting at the hands of someone else, this is not your secret to hide. Tell your sister, your friend, your doctor, your neighbor. Email me: [email protected], or call National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233. You are not alone.

Or come join us in our supporter group at Coop’s Troops. Find other moms who understand. We are here for you.

Elizabeth Garner Vance

Written by, Carrie Cariello

Carrie Cariello is the author of What Color Is Monday, How Autism Changed One Family for the Better, and Someone I’m With Has Autism. She lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband, Joe, and their five children. 

Carrie is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY Parents, the TODAY Show, Parents.com. She has been interviewed by NBC Nightly News, and also has a TEDx talk.

She speaks regularly about autism, marriage, and motherhood, and writes a weekly blog at www.carriecariello.com. One of her essays, “I Know What Causes Autism,” was featured as one of the Huffington Post’s best of 2015, and her piece, “I Know Why He Has Autism,” was named one of the top blog posts of 2017 by the TODAY Show.

Interested in writing for Finding Cooper’s Voice? LEARN MORE

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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