Today an old friend said to me, “I can’t even imagine having an eleven year old non-verbal.”

I love that type of friendship. That type of honesty. That ability to lay the poison right out in the open. In actuality, it’s a healing poison. It’s nice that, although years have passed, the intimacy of honesty is still there. I understand that those friendships are quite rare. I also understand that God has incredibly blessed me with both family and friends who fall into that category. Honestly, how is it possible to face each day without knowing those blessings are there?

I consider myself to be quite open when it comes to Savannah. Maybe I’m not, but I hope to be. I don’t consider myself easily offended, but then who does? I am offended when people without disabled children claim judgements about things they can’t possibly understand. Or when people who have seen Savannah only a few times have the answers, and yes every family has those. Every single family. But I am never offended by a question. Truthfully, I’m thankful for them. What greater compliment than someone who cares enough to ask. To search out answers. To desire more information about a disabled child, my disabled child. What greater compliment than honesty.

After the long distance text, the question lingered. It followed me around, haunting me, consuming me, a poison pulsing in my veins. I couldn’t imagine it either. I can’t. I tried, but I can’t. Sometimes, I look at the tall girl before me with breasts and everything else that buds when womanhood approaches, and I don’t recognize her. I can’t see the silent child with so much potential who I cradled in my arms only a few years ago. Other times, I look at childhood pictures of an adorable little girl, and i don’t remember her. I don’t remember the big blue eyes and innocent smile that brought me so much hope. I can’t wrap my fingers around the hope at two or four or even six years old. The hope that words would return, school-by definition-was inclusive and even the possibly of college.

At eleven, the hope is deflated. There is no more imagining. There is only doing and loving, as you slip forward into twelve and thirteen and fourteen and the terrifying future you’ve tried to change. The future of hormones and education biases and program gaps and legal loop-holes and autonomous desires and living arrangements and special needs trusts and the undeniable, unacceptable future after you have passed. And one day, you will pass. I will pass, and then what?

Eleven and non-verbal. It is unimaginable.


One response to “Imaginings

  • laurie27wsmith

    I can only empathise with you Sarah and I can’t begin to understand what it must be like to have a child with Savannah’s problems. I have two siblings with Autistic children so I am aware of what they go through. It’s all ‘walk a mile in my moccasins’ stuff, and you are right, it’s the what happens when you die issue.

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