Mother’s Day

Mikey's card

The last card I ever got from Mikey

Inside of the card. One of my greatest treasures

Inside of the card. One of my greatest treasures

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there who spend 364 days of the year putting everyone else’s needs ahead of their own.  I don’t think most mothers know how to act when someone else suddenly puts them on a pedestal.  My friend and I were discussing the definition of “diva.”  Is there a mom out there who actually has “diva” in their vocabulary?

Mother’s Day is one of those days that leaves me with a giant knot in my stomach; matching the giant void that Mikey left in my life.  I know every mother who has lost a child experiences the same kind of sorrow today.  We rejoice in the children, grandchildren, and family that we are so fortunate to have in our lives.  We embrace the love and laughter they bring us, especially today.  And then we go home and succumb to sobs, and welcome the next 364 days where our maternal designation isn’t called out.  It’s somehow easier to rejoice in the children we still have when we’re not flooded with memories of the children who no longer celebrate with us.

Children like Mikey call for mothers who will be mothers 24/7.  There’s no down time; no “me” time, and no time to waste primping when a hurricane is blowing through your house.  Consequently, there were many days when I was lucky just to get a shower without a catastrophe happening during my brief respite under the shower head.  I staged a protest one year when my mother-in-law wanted us to come over and landscape her yard as her mother’s day present.  That practice had started a few years earlier and had somehow become a tradition.  But my sister-in-law and I finally decried an end to this tradition, since we were mothers too, and did not wish to spend every Mother’s Day pulling weeds.  So my husband offered to take me and kids out to Sunday brunch instead.  I jumped on this, since we rarely braved restaurants with Mikey, and I usually cooked three meals a day.

We jumped in the car and began trying to find a restaurant without a 2 hour wait.  Impossible on Mother’s Day!   We struck out at the first several places we tried, and the kids were getting hungry and antsy. The Hilton Hotel was advertising a brunch, and we were delighted to discover there wasn’t a long wait time.  So we entered the line at the Hilton and discovered we were a trifle under-dressed.  There were a few ladies who were actually wearing evening gowns, men wearing suits, and very few children in the establishment.

This was the first time I paused to take notice of what we were all wearing.  I had on a yellow sweat shirt and jeans.  My husband had on a t-shirt and jeans.  Mikey had on a psychedelic t-shirt that almost came down to his knobby little knees, shorts that clashed with it, and his trademark black and white checkerboard Vans. Susie was the only one of us who looked remotely put-together.  At least she matched.

We didn’t care.  I was so thankful at getting an afternoon away from the kitchen and I was well beyond caring about what other people thought of me.  While we were eating, I remarked at how under-dressed we were.  Mike said, “At least you have clean clothes on.  I mowed the lawn in this t-shirt this morning.”  Not to be outdone, Mikey yelled, “I slept in this t-shirt last night!”  After enduring the glares from the other customers who overheard this conversation, we finally left.  A huge line had formed with the afternoon crowd, and I thought it was funny when I was not having any trouble getting through the line.  In fact, when they saw me coming, it was like the parting of the Red Sea.  All the well-dressed folks took 10 steps back to let me through.

“Snobs!” I thought.  Until I got into the car.  I’m not quite sure how or when it happened, but at some point I had apparently gotten into some pudding.  There was a huge blob of chocolate pudding hanging off my elbow.  It couldn’t be missed.  Obviously, the other diners hadn’t missed it and were trying to avoid it when I passed them.  No doubt we gave the upper-crust crowd something to talk about and snicker over.  I didn’t care.  It was “my” day, and I had been given special treatment by my appreciative family.  Whatever your own brand of “special” is, doesn’t matter when it’s given with love.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, with chocolate pudding on top!

 

 

 

Spring in the Garden

tomato for fat reducing

As April is slipping away, the sunnier days of May are springing forward and I fondly remember all the seasons of planting with little Mikey, medium sized Mikey, and big Mikey.  Mikey loved growing things.  He loved all things connected to the earth.  Perhaps he knew on some level that he would have little time to enjoy the earthly things, so he dug into them with zest.  Sometimes he dug into them with my good silverware, and sometimes just with his little grubby hands.  I had a dream shortly after Mikey died which seemed to be more of a “visit” than a dream.  Mikey was standing in the kitchen giggling and I opened up the drawer he was standing in front of.  It was overflowing with all the numerous spoons he had lost outside while digging over the years, and he burst out laughing and said, “I brought back all your silverware that I lost.”

Tomatoes were Mikey’s favorite things to plant, as well as experiment with.  He tried in vain to cross breed a tomato with a watermelon; always hoping to get a melon sized version of his favorite tart tomato.  Mikey also liked Rainbow tomatoes, because of their varying hues.

Catering to his olfactory senses as well as his taste buds, Mikey inherited my love of spices.  We always made our yearly trip to our favorite nursery to load up on the many variations of herbs and spices, with careful selection based on smell.  Orange mint, pineapple mint, lemon verbena, every version of oregano and basil, and some token catnip for the kitties.  Mikey tenderly watched and watered and snipped and savored each and every plant until it thrived to harvest time.

I always had to grab a few baskets of flowers to brighten up our porch after the Colorado winter, and Mikey enjoyed the scents of them, too.  He was frustrated that tulips did not have much of a smell, as giant red tulips were his favorite flower visually.

Gardening is something all children love to participate in.  Growing things magically out of a seed is fascinating for young and old alike.  I am excitedly looking forward to becoming a grandma this summer.  Susie and Vince are expecting their first child shortly before Mikey’s birthday, and I can’t wait for the day when I can take my grandchild to Mikey’s favorite nursery to pick out her own favorite plants.  Will she enjoy digging in the dirt as much as her uncle did?  Who knows?  The sight of a small child stopping to smell the roses or watch the butterfly or pinch the ladybug is worth a thousand beautiful words, and grandma will be right here to type them.

The Colors of Autism

smallcoloredeggs

The creative minds of autistic people experience the world in shapes, colors, and sounds that do not always make sense.  While the words may get jumbled up, the colors do not.  The colors are an expression of feelings and vibrations that an autistic person senses on an intuitive level deep within their being.  While the word “angry” might not mean anything to them, the color red may represent a feeling they know well, but cannot express in words.

My world was enriched by my son, Mikey, who brought more color into my life than any artist’s palette could create.  Mikey experienced the world in living color, and he was drawn to anything visually colorful.  He could feel emotions represented in colors, and he expressed his feelings through his use of color in his artwork.  Blue was his very favorite color; royal blue.  Blue symbolizes spirituality, youth, truth, and peace, and it’s linked to intellect and consciousness.  That pretty well sums up Mikey.  Although he didn’t know what the color blue represented; it represented him.  In fact, blue represented Mikey far better than his label of “autism” did.

I can’t picture Mikey in the summertime without seeing a tie-dyed shirt.  Four years after his death, I can’t look at a tie-dyed shirt without picturing Mikey.  Mikey wore all the colors of the rainbow proudly.  He only wore tans and beiges because they blended in and camouflaged him when he desired to be inconspicuous.  But nine days out of ten, he would grab the most colorful t-shirt out of his closet to wear around the house.  He had his favorites, which I still sleep in:  orange, gold, green, and blue.  The colors shaped his mood, along with the colorful clay he used for modeling objects and the colorful glazes he put on pottery.

One of the greatest gifts to give an autistic child is a kaleidoscope.  It has everything they love: colors, motion, and light.  And it doesn’t require batteries; just a simple twist of the hand and it offers a constantly changing work of art.  Art in motion.  A unique and beautiful version of the wheel.

If you know a child with autism, instead of filling their Easter basket with pastel plastic toys, how about a kaleidoscope instead?  Or how about skipping the pastel eggs in favor of the bright primary colors, or neon colored plastic eggs?  They have plastic eggs in all manners of color combinations nowadays.  Instead of filling the eggs with candy, fill them with different blocks of colorful Sculpey Clay.  It will give their creative minds hours of enjoyment, instead of giving their bodies hyper-active responses to sugar.

And let them dye eggs any way they want them.  Mikey used to leave eggs sitting in dye cups overnight, because he wanted them as dark and richly colored as possible.  Egg dying was one of Mikey’s favorite holiday traditions.  It’s a tradition that autistic kids can enjoy just as much – or more- than other kids.  Remember when you are celebrating holidays, they should be included in the celebrating, which means some of the usual traditions may need modified or skipped altogether.  But it’s their holiday, too.   Wishing everyone a very colorful and wonderful Easter!

 

Do We Astral Travel?

When I’m speaking to people who have lost loved ones, I understand the longing they feel to see the one they lost again.  I long to see Mikey all the time; to behold him with my eyes and ears and touch his face, his hair, his hands.  But when I think of him, I can see him sitting right beside me.  Right after he died, I remember feeling worried that I would forget things about him over time.  Never happen.  When you lose someone you share unconditional love with, especially your child, you forget nothing.  You can call them up in your mind anytime you want. No, you can’t hear them with your ears, but you hear them in your mind.  You see them in your mind’s eye, and you can experience their energy from your memory of them.

But I noticed after he died, many times I would wake up in the morning and feel as if I really had just seen him.  I didn’t feel quite as sad; I didn’t feel as if it had been an eternity since I’d seen him,  as it had when I laid my head down to sleep the night before.  I felt as if I had just spent time with Mikey while I was sleeping.

Do we astral travel when we sleep at night?  Can we connect with loved ones in another realm when our conscious minds go to sleep?  I believe we can and do.  It sounds very hocus-pocus, but I am convinced our subconscious mind can travel wherever it wants to, as long as our conscious mind is not awake and telling us it’s impossible.  Remote viewers can see things that are happening a thousand miles away from them, and they’re awake while they’re observing.  So why can’t the rest of us experience the love from another spiritual being who is separated from us through death, when our logical conscious brain is at rest?

I’ve had several dreams about Mikey that felt like “visits” rather than dreams, and I believe they were visits from him that I was allowed to remember.  But I also believe I travel to visit Mikey myself quite often when I’m “asleep”, but I’m not allowed to remember those visits.  I don’t remember them, but I feel them when I wake up.  I feel as if I have just spent time with Mikey.  He doesn’t feel as if he’s another night farther away from me; separated even more, as more time passes after his death..  It feels as if I just left his place and woke up in mine.

Am I just having regular dreams about him which I don’t remember?   That’s probably the case sometimes.  But at other times, I know it’s not a dream.  I know I was just talking to him when suddenly I was jerked back into my body, awakened with a start.  I remember what we were talking about when I first wake up, and it never seems strange to be talking with him, even though in my “dream” I know he is physically dead.  My subconscious accepts the fact that I can spend time with a person who is only alive in spirit, while my conscious mind won’t allow me that luxury.

So when people who have lost children tell me they still have a hard time going to sleep at night years later, I always tell them that’s my favorite time to commune with Mikey. I fall asleep easier now than I ever did before Mikey’s death.  I look forward to seeing him at night, whether it’s just a dream or an actual visit from astral traveling with him.  I don’t know and I don’t care.  I know I wake up happy after feeling like I’ve seen my son, and that’s what keeps me going.Mikey's senior picture Sweet dreams!