May You Always Know How Much You’ll be Missed

Nearly every day we get a letter, or an email. Some have good news, some carry rejection.

Like a version of the infamous Dr. Seuss poem, the messages and envelopes tell a modern-day story of the places you might go.

New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts.

Some schools are in small towns, other sprawl amongst tall buildings and busy sidewalks.

Some have large, rambling campuses with extravagant dining halls. 

Others boast state-of-the art technology, or winning sports teams.

All of them are far from home.

He sees the return addresses, when he brings the mail in after school every day. Your tall brother admires the logos—you know how he’s always loved logos—and recites the cities to himself while he takes off his jacket.

Rochester Boston Philadelphia Hartford

Then he sits at my laptop, and he studies Google Maps.

For Philadelphia. Is very far away.

He looks up from the screen, and he fiddles with his watch. He calculates how much time we have left.

Six months. For Joey to go. To college.

Since you were a year old, autism has been the backdrop of your life, and the tympani of rhythm to which our family danced. 

You bumbled around the living room on unsteady legs, while your brand-new baby brother screamed and cried. 

You bravely walked into the first day of preschool, while your little brother ran into the parking lot. 

In many ways, we tried not to let the spectrum demands prevail—we tried to flex and bend where we could, and teach your brother to do the same.

But our success in this area is difficult to measure. 

Your childhood has been full of sacrifice. I know. I am sorry for this.

Time and time again, you stepped aside for the meltdowns, and the rigidity.

You are an autism brother. It has not always been easy. 

I know I asked more of you than I should have. I asked you to be quiet when he could not, and to stay still when he needed to run. 

I know he ruined your birthday party when you were six, because he kept telling all the kids it was time to go home.

But I refuse to believe it was all bad. I refuse it didn’t shape into the boy you are, and the man you will soon become. 

May you remember the days you woke early to his voice.

Jack, buddy, its 7:00 am. What is it?

Joey. For will you take me. To Dunkin’ Donuts.

You bring something out in him no one else can.

You taught him how to be playful—how to throw a snowball and dive from the diving board and slurp soda through a straw.

You showed him how to try for things that were slightly out of reach.

You will go far in this life of yours, I just know it in my heart. 

No matter where you land, or what you do, may you always remember the way he longs for what you hold in the palm of your hand. 

Freedom.

Independence.

The ability to jump in the driver’s seat on a Sunday morning, and pick up your favorite breakfast.

Joey. For I want. A bagel with butter.

Okay, just give me a minute. 

May you continue to lift up those around you, so they may fly in their own time, and their own way.

Hey Jack, how about you start the car?

Really. For me. TO START THE CAR?

When you go, you will take a small piece of each of us with you. It is inevitable. 

At the same time, you will leave so much behind.

Sure, Jack, I know you can do it.

Yes. For me. I can do it. 

He is going to miss you fiercely.

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.

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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 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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