Although we have never met, I feel like I know you. We may have never shared a glass of wine together, but, even without the wall that crumbles when you add some Cabernet, I believe that I know your deepest sorrows, your highest joys, your biggest regrets and the sometimes paralyzingly fear that envelopes you when you think of the future.
And sure, we may have never spent endless hours texting or face timing, but, in some ways I still think I know you better than some of your closest friends. Friends who love and support you and your child in the best way they can without ever walking in your shoes. I've never so much as stepped into your home, but, I have stepped into your shoes.
Even though I have never laid eyes on you, I know the look of relief that crosses your face when your child has been able to survive an unexpected change in plans. I know the enormous smile that reaches your eyes when your child allows you that extra cuddle or kiss and does not pull away when you stroke his head as you kiss him goodnight. I know the look of anguish that you try so well to hide when your child is rejected by his peers...again. I know the worry that creases your brow as your teenager spends another summer alone in his room. And I know the hope that creeps into your heart when you see your child make progress and think that maybe the experts got "it" wrong.
I'm familiar with the guilt when you sometimes wonder what could be and the gratitude you feel for what is. I know the indescribable joy of a successful haircut and the heartache of an unsigned yearbook. I know the regrets of the past, the awareness of the present and the fears of the future.
Damn, do you have time for another bottle of wine?
And although we may not have anything else in common, I know we share a common belief that our child is more than meets the untrained eye. We know our child can learn if we know how to teach him. We know our child can communicate if we learn how to listen to him. We know our child can be successful if we learn how to support him. We share a desire for the world to see our child like we do. For others to not just be aware of Autism, the diagnosis, but, to be accepting of (insert your child's name here), the individual. And I know that regardless of what our mother tongue may be, we are advocating for our children in a universal language.
As much as I would love to share that glass of wine with you and get to know you better, I find comfort with each and every sip as I sit on my porch with only the summer crickets to keep me company, knowing that no matter what country or time zone we are drinking our Cabernet, Merlot or Chardonnay in, we are not alone. For that, and for you, I am eternally grateful.
Thanks for always being there,