Last night, M and I snuggled in bed after his bath to watch Marley and Me. C was already asleep. I wasn't sure that I'd make it through the whole movie. I was sure that I'd turn it off before the end came. M rarely watches anything from beginning to end. Especially if it is not animated. So I was pretty amazed when he sat through the whole movie.
Somewhere in the middle I got up to check on C, make the sure the house was locked up tight, and brush my teeth. When I emerged from the bathroom, M was curled up in the bed, rocked with huge sobs, the fat tears just rolling down his cherub cheeks.
I crawled in next to him and he rolled over to me and clasped onto me so tight. Tighter than any other hug I've ever gotten from him. He buried his face in my neck. It took a good few minutes for him to answer my question, "What's wrong, baby?"
When his sobs finally took leave long enough for him to answer, he gazed up at me and said, "Mommy, I just miss Ripley so much!" and the sobbing returned.
I was gone.
I was right there with him, clinging onto him, sobbing in grief over the loss of our pet. It's almost been a month since our loss, and I don't think I've cried that hard since the first week. We spent the next 5 minutes cuddling and crying together. I wiped his tears away and stroked his hair until he fell asleep.
I wasn't just mourning our pet. I was ecstatic with the boy who was sobbing with me. Like all Autistics, M struggles with emotions. He can't read the emotions of others very well. He cannot put his emotions into words. Whatever he is feeling inside challenges him daily. Autistic tantrums are usually the result of the inability to filter and deal with the world and the emotions it evokes.
But for him to spontaneously recognize his emotion, label it, and deal with it appropriately is the true miracle. And I can't think of a harder emotion to deal with than grief. Neurotypical people of all ages struggle with it, including myself.
This is my boy, M. His Autism tries to hide him from me but I see him breaking through more and more each day.
Some people may think I am exaggerating this small feat. I felt like time stood still in that moment. I felt the earth move. This encounter came with the strangest combination of grief and elation.
This memory is one that will stay with me forever and I am fortunate to have it.