As we stroll along these foreign campus grounds, my mind wanders to scary places like, "Will he do too many tap hits at a kegger and kiss a girl who just ate peanut butter and go into anaphylactic shock?" and happy places like, "Will he find his future wife here...the woman who will give me beautiful grandchildren...many, many years from now?" As my mind races from sadness to joy like an uncoupled railway car, I try not to imagine the emptiness I will feel in our home without Kyle's loud, vibrant voice and presence, a presence that is so similar to my own that it makes my LOL as frequently as it irritates me.
Putting my own feelings aside, I also worry what Kyle's departure will mean for Ryan and Emma. Kyle has always been the big brother Ryan worships. The brother who looked out for Ryan, taught him to use slang, and showed him what was "cool". Ryan's speech therapist once told me that having Kyle for a big brother transcended anything she could teach him in a classroom as Ryan tried to model and mimic the speech of a brother he loved and emulated. Once in a speech session, the therapist just casually mentioned "one day when Kyle goes to college..." and Ryan became so distraught and inconsolable they had to end the session early. For a child who struggles with change, Kyle heading off to college will be the biggest change he has had to experience since we brought a crying, loud, unpredictable baby sister into his world.
Ryan and Emma are so different, their rail cars filled with goods that neither are interested in or understands and without Kyle coupling them, I think those goods will become more diverse and less understood thus causing their cars to drift farther and farther apart. In some weird, twisted part of my brain, I have thought, well, maybe uncoupled, Ryan and Emma will bump into each other in a horrific crash causing their goods to spill all over the tracks and getting so intermixed that they will have to find a way to clean the mess up together. In doing so, maybe they will recognize the value of one another's goods and see that there is a way to stay close without the coupler holding them together.
Without their coupler, Ryan and Emma may drift even farther apart and as hard as it is for me to accept that, I may have to, without necessarily pointing the finger at autism. Just like the world had to accept Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin uncoupling, I too may have to accept that Ryan and Emma may consciously uncouple and even though "they love each other very much, they will remain seperate". There are no bad guys, no one to blame, just two individuals riding on seperate tracks.
Next fall when Kyle heads off to college, I may be so consumed with my own adjustment to the change in the dynamics of our home that my worries of his departure uncoupling Ryan and Emma, may come much later (after I stop spending 24 hours a day obsessing over peanut butter kisses and tap hits). And perhaps in that time, when I am trying to adjust and uncurl from the fetal position, Ryan and Emma may or may not find a way to connect without Kyle's presence. Only time will tell and as I watch my oldest son, my baby boy, strolling from campus to campus, one thing I do know, I most certainly can not control time.
Along with figuring out this mother son thing over the years, I have also figured out that when it comes to love, kids, and yes, even autism, never say "never". Unless of course it is "NEVER kiss a girl who just ate peanut butter", to your severely allergic son, then "never" definitely applies.