Thursday night I was asked to be of service by a friend who was waiting with a family member to be seen in the emergency room. I identify so closely with this individual as she is a caregiver for her special needs brother. When I arrived with her food – they had been waiting close to three hours – I was struck by the view. There she was being so loving and patient while her brother was agonizing in pain. For a brief moment, I saw Bryce doing the same thing for Bailey.
I don’t like to think about the moment when I won’t be here for Bailey. There are times when I wonder if it would be better if he went before me. I can get caught up in the “what ifs” and never want Bryce to feel an obligation to care for his brother. I want Bryce to have his own life. Not that he would ever feel burdened by him, but there is a lingering thread as a mother that is very vigilant about never putting that on him.
After I left the hospital, I was so emotional. There was a mixture of feelings, but most of all, how lucky my friend’s brother is and vice-versa. I don’t think people understand the magnitude of the contribution of special needs child. They cultivate a sense of empathy for others outside of the nuclear family. Bryce has something that most kids his age don’t have – tolerance, compassion, and a great deal of patience. An added bonus in the type of society that is developing.
After a week rocked with uncertainty, intolerance (on both sides), and the sense that people don’t really want to be a part of the solution, I get this gift. The gift of seeing my friend walk through this caregiving opportunity with such grace and love brings me back to the present moment. It defies the unknown that we have before us. It is a reminder to take one day at a time and strive to be the best version of you possible.