The Wilson gang plus one
Oh, the things I’ve been wanting to tell you …
They’ve been piling up.
Electronic notes on that lined yellow papery looking app-y thingy on my iPhone.
The piles get too high.
Oh my gosh, I’ve been wanting to tell you about Kate.
About the joy, the exuberance, the light, the kinetic energy that is Kate.
I’d known her for years via our blogs and Facebook and even some long, meandering middle-of-the-night e-mail conversations, but we’d yet to manage to meet in person. We had a near-miss last year, but our plans went bust before I could actually lay eyes on her. But this time — this time, we were determined to make it work.
The concrete things that I knew about Kate are that she has Asperger’s, and also that she has some pretty serious sensitivities to fragrances and chemicals that can make life particularly challenging.
So that’s what I knew.
But please believe me when I tell you this — those are NOT the things that you notice when you meet Kate. Instead, what you see — what you can’t possibly miss — is her energy.
She laughs easily and she laughs a lot. And her laugh is infectious. It’s physical and it’s big and it’s all-encompassing. It draws you in and it wraps you up and it takes you along on its journey to a whole other place — a better, brighter, lighter place.
And even though it’s different from the one that I know so well and love so much — its effect on everyone around her is eerily familiar.
Brooke’s belly laugh – so different from her sister’s, so very much her own. The laugh that starts with her shoulders and takes her whole body along for the ride. The laugh that sets her eyes on fire and whose sheer energy could launch a rocket ship and send it into orbit. The contagious laugh that leaves an electric happiness in its wake.
Uh huh. Like that.
Kate had driven down from Maine with her friend, Rob. We chatted a bit and I asked how they met. That was when he told me that he runs a support group for adults with Asperger’s and a mentoring group for teens on the spectrum.
I almost hugged him.
But that would have been a bit presumptuous, so I refrained.
They talked about their meet-ups, the social events they plan, the world of support that they’ve created around this word that helps to — but does not alone — identify their experience.
And I felt it. This burbling, bubbling boiling-over feeling of … well, hope.
Because Kate has a few more challenges than your average bear, meeting up with her wasn’t easy. It took energy. It involved phone calls to various proposed meeting spots to ask about their flooring, the date of their construction, assessments of the likelihood of chemicals that Kate wouldn’t be able to tolerate. And the knowledge that if it didn’t work and she wasn’t comfortable, we would all get up and go somewhere else.
It took energy.
But riding that wave of laughter — of that kinetic, physical, big and encompassing laughter — I found myself infused with far more energy than I’d expended.
Far, far more.
I got more out of it than I put in.
And as I listened to Kate chatting with my Katie, I realized that all of her delightful stories and entertaining anecdotes were peppered with a common theme – friends. Kate apparently has lots of them. And family. Lots of that too. And connections. Lots and lots of those.
And I sat there like a voyeur, listening in on their conversation, basking in the glow of that energy, riding high on that wave of laughter and thinking just how wonderful it is that all of those people have taken the time to find out just how worth it it is to expend the energy that it takes to get so much back. How many people understand what a gift it is to know Kate. How worth it SHE is.
And I thought of my Brooke. And Katie. And Luau. And me. And in writing this, I thought of what I’d written after talking with my friend, Landon one day recently – an hour having evaporated in the pure, unadulterated joy of easy conversation.
I will be forever grateful to Brooke for unwittingly breaking my insular little world wide open. For allowing me — nay, forcing me — to see the beauty of difference, the light and color and startling depth of dimension in the full range of the human spectrum. For giving me the gift of a life well-lived thanks to the variety and the quality of the people in it. I owe her — and autism — more than I can ever begin to repay.
Just thinking about Kate and that glorious night, I feel some of that energy burbling and bubbling and boiling again. And I know without a doubt that in that energy there is hope — that we are moving toward a world in which taking the time and finding the ways to get to know one another is simply what we ALL do. And the gift of each other is the bounty we receive in return.
To follow Kate’s blog, Aspie From Maine click –> HERE <–