When Jakob was little and the diagnosis was new, the fear was so great that the anxiety, depression and the mere fight to survive was overwhelming.  There was love there, so much love, it just felt so out of reach from the pain and suffering of the moment.  Thankfully, time changes things.  The distance from the most stressful of days has gifted me with clarity.  In that clarity, I have found so much beauty.  I am now so grateful for the special brand of love Jakob’s autism has brought into my life.

I have a 17-year-old son who will on a regular basis walk beside me and hold my hand through Kroger.  Standing at the checkout, he’ll lovingly rest his head on my shoulder. How many typical 17-year-olds do that?  Since I never know which time may be his last, I always soak it in, never taking his sweet and tender gesture for granted.

During just normal conversation, he will stand in front of me, look me in the eye, grab both my hands and smile at me.  Sometimes he’s talking about stuff that’s a big deal like having to go to study hall.  But most often it’s about the simple stuff, like having waffles for dinner. The love in his eyes and the desire to connect melts my heart every time.

We have our own language.  We can communicate with each other clearly and concisely while others watch and listen and have no clue what’s going on.  He knows that I will always listen and if I don’t understand what he’s trying to tell me, he knows I will keep trying until I figure it out.  I love being his safe place and the person he can always talk to about anything.

Recently, he accidentally shaved off his sideburns and that was the funniest thing that happened the entire day.  I showed him where hair is supposed to grow on his face and where he needs to stop the razor.  It turned into a laughfest that included pictures and texts to family and friends saying “I shaved off my sideburns.  Whoopsies”.  There’s so much joy in the silly little things.

I think we’ve both learned that everything is little and it’s all silly.  Laughter lives large in our home. Being able to laugh at everything has proven to be the best medicine for a kid who struggles to figure out how the world most people live in works and a mom who so desperately wants to help him do that.

Yes, he has taught me patience, compassion, tolerance, kindness, acceptance, perseverance.  He has also shown me how to bravely be who I am.  This he does by example every day.  I have a child who will not conform to what society thinks he should be.  How he should think and see and talk and act and be.  Jakob is Jakob and he will dig his heels in and fight anyone who forcibly tries to make him be something he’s not.  That takes courage and conviction.  An incredible example for us all.

Jakob is such a blessing.  Every day.  He’s my best friend, my teacher, my buddy, my favorite Friday night date, my co-pilot, my navigator, my partner in crime, my joy, my heart, my soulmate, my son.  We couldn’t be any more perfect than that.