Facing My Fears

Yesterday I visited my dad in a nursing home. It’s funny how our mind and our heart can play tricks on us. Meaning, I understood he was in there, but I couldn’t really believe it. Even as I type the words ‘nursing home’ I have the urge to erase them.

It was also his birthday. 79 years young I told him.

As I drove the nearly three-hour drive alone to visit him, I tried to prepare myself for what I was going to see and feel. Would he be the same dad that I’ve had for all of my life?

He was. But I still managed to cry most of the visit. Thankfully I was able to blame my 37-week pregnant hormonal body. But really, it was fear and worry. And the old familiar feeling of not knowing how to fix something.

We laughed a lot too. Which felt like putting on old lived-in sweatshirt that you’ve had for years. Each of his laughs brought me a sense of comfort. He has the best laugh and one of my favorite pastimes is pulling it out of him.

As our 30-minute visit neared the end he said to me…’a lot of the residents scream all night long.’ He went onto explain how he felt lucky to have his voice. ‘These people scream because they can’t talk and it sounds like they are in pain. It’s scary sometimes.

‘With his description, I felt my heart and my mind jump to attention…and I thought of my Cooper.

The yellow haired boy who is tucked in every night next to his younger brother. The boy who sleeps with no less than 7 blankets and has piles of treasures stacked next to him. Often when I check on him, and kiss his cheeks, I will wonder what he is dreaming about.

My mind ping-ponged between now and 70 years from now.

When my son was diagnosed with autism at age 3, then severe and nonverbal at age 4, and even more in the years to follow, I told myself that the worry would someday end. That eventually, we would reach this plateau and he would be safe and I could set down my fears for his future.

And that I wouldn’t have to advocate forever. Because the world would understand him like I do.

Sometimes I write on this page to show the beauty and joy of my son’s autism. Sometimes it’s to educate or teach a lesson. But this post, the purpose is different. It’s for me to face my fears and to take away their power.

See if I let the worry of my son at age 79 consume me now, then I will lose the joy of today and tomorrow.

I have to type the words, acknowledge them, and move on.

My dad promised me when I left that he would keep fighting. That he wouldn’t give up. And last night, I kissed my sweet boy’s head and promised him the same thing.

I will keep fighting Cooper and I won’t give up.

(Picture: My dad and Cooper 10 years ago.)

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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