I’ve waited too long to write. The stories have begun to pile up in my head, listing like a pile of sweaters in an attic, desperately close to scattering about the floor in a chaotic array of texture and color.
I’m trying to hold the pile together. There are stories in there that I’m simply not ready to store away. I’ve leaned the pile against a hip to try to keep it in place. My hands are full. God, they are so full.
Full with working and shopping, with finding and wrapping, with soothing and guiding, with baking and merry-making, with wiping tears, with sewing and card writing, with hiding the new med in yogurt and praying it will be OK, with wish-fulfilling and friendship mending, with elf on a shelf moving, with lists – endless, endless lists – with the day-to-day business of life.
But the stories. The stories are always there.
There’s the story of the autism dad who reached out to me, who opened his heart (and his bank records) to educate me about app creation and who, in so doing, convinced me unequivocally that the anger and frustration that was directed toward him was desperately misplaced.
There’s the story of the incredible class and maturity that dripped from his e-mail to me days after our initial interchange in which he wrote, “I’m glad my feelings got hurt the other day. Good things have come of it.”
The FREE software that he has already given to some of you and that he is eager to give to more readers who cannot afford to buy his app*.
I want so badly to give him his due, but the post remains half-written as I try to simply wade through the days.
But the stories. The stories are always there.
The story of Katie coming up to me with a book in her hand, delicately wrapped in a red satin bow. “Mama,” she said so softly I had to lean in to hear, “I want to explain how important this is to me. How much it means to me. It’s something really special. I want you to read it.”
The story of how she handed me the book, called A Crooked Kind of Perfect and then just stood there, quietly, expectantly – watching me. How I was taken aback by how small she looked in that moment, how young she really still is despite her recent headlong surge into tweendom.
How when I read the description on the back of the book, I instinctively reached for her when I saw the line, “In the end, resilient and resourceful Zoe finds perfection in the most imperfect and unique situations, and she shines.”
How I promised her that I will read the book and return it to her as soon as I possibly can. How I can’t for the life of me fathom how or when I’m actually going to read a book right now, but how I swore to myself that I would because it matters to my girl.
How a gift that I don’t even get to keep is apt to be my very favorite this Christmas.
There’s the story of how I planned a luncheon for the Special Education Aides in our school and then didn’t get to be there. How Luau stepped in and picked up food and hung balloons and read the words I’d planned to say myself. How grateful I was that he was there. How he formatted and framed twenty copies of my favorite quote so that each and every one of them would know just how much they are appreciated.
One hundred years from now it will not matter how much money you made, what kind of car you drove, what sort of house you lived in.
One hundred years from now, the world will be a better place because you made a difference in the life of a child.
There’s the bigger story of how Luau has stepped into so many of the roles that I’d carved out during my time at home, and how I really should have told him already how very much it means to me that he has.
There’s the story of the Mary Magdalene doll and the absolutely fabulous costumer from Godspell who offered to help clothe her – and who did an AMAZING job. There’s the almost unbearable anticipation leading up to tomorrow’s big unveiling.
There’s the story of my dear friend, Drama and me going back and forth via text last night rewriting Christmas carols. How all night I was singing to the tune of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” …
Later on, we’ll conspire
With the advocate we’ve hired
To create an IEP
An education fair and free
Walking in this Autism Land
We’ll pay for therapies by the hour
And the Internet we’ll scour
To find that one thing
That God-willing will bring
Our babies out of Autism Land
And then there’s the story of how, with seven hundred and ninety-three things left to do today, I have squirreled myself away for the last hour in the office and left the world waiting while I’ve banged on the keyboard.
Because even when it feels impossible – or maybe ESPECIALLY when it feels impossible – I have to find a way to release the valve. To straighten the pile. To gather myself together to face the lists – the endless lists – and to be reminded that in our own way, we really are living a crooked kind of perfect.
I hope you can find some time for you, too.
* Steve Maher, developer of Behavior Tracker Pro, has generously offered to provide free software to low-income or financially struggling readers. Please e-mail him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a code. Thank you, Steve!