“I love you, Mommy,” you said to me in a voice of crystal melody. Oh, the joy! To hear your childlike voice, to hear you say “Mommy” for the very first time! I was overwhelmed. I awoke with tears in my eyes and a sob in my throat.
Then I realized. A dream.
Joy can turn to loss in an instant.
It has been some time since I had a dream like this. For years I clung with tenacity to the hope that you would one day start speaking. Friends would say, “I know a child who suddenly started speaking at age 4 … at age 5 … at age 6 … at age 7 …” Now you are 8 years old, and I realize that sometime in the past year I have let go of that hope. I don’t know the exact day it happened, but I guess I just couldn’t hold on to that one anymore. It hurt too much. There comes a time in the lives of autism parents when reality hits, and we finally accept that there are certain things our children will never do.
You will never speak. I accept that. If you’d like to prove me wrong, go right ahead! But I want you to know that no matter what, I hear you. I will always hear you.
It’s not always crystal clear, like your voice in my dream. There are no interpreters for your language. But I do my best and eventually figure out what you are telling me.
I hear you when you are happy, and when you are excited. I hear you when you use your Talker. I hear you when you are upset. That comes in loud and clear! I hear you when you are frustrated and sad and hungry and thirsty.
Best of all, I hear you when you say that you love me. In your amazing one-armed hugs, in your dimpled smile and adorable giggle, in your eyes when they ask for just one more round of that silly song.
You tell me that you love me every day. I don’t need to hear your voice to know that.
That’s what you were really telling me in my dream. I know that was truly you, somehow, letting me hear your angel voice one last time. Telling me it’s okay to let go of certain hopes.
I love you, too, Buddy.