Emotional Rescue

Emotionally, we take flight when the strength of our passion exceeds the strength of our blockages; the floodgates open and we are free to feel fully.   —Daily Om

It wouldn’t be stretching things to say that I’ve been an emotional wreck lately. I’ve been pushing myself to meet deadlines both at work and at home, and it frustrates me to no end to not be able to meet my goals. I try not to let the reality of my situation—being a full-time single parent—get in the way of what I want to achieve, but the undeniable fact is that it often does. Combine that with my increasing concern over Nigel’s academic/work challenges and his social vulnerability, and it’s no surprise that I’m overwhelmed.

So, everything has been on the surface lately, emotionally speaking. Every day has been like a marathon. This week could not end soon enough. The boys and I got home Friday afternoon, did a bunch of chores, ate dinner, and then Nigel and I went to our local grocery store for a few things. First, we recycled our bottles and cans at those machines that count and crush them and dispense receipts for the deposit refund. At one point, the plastic machine got stuck, and I took a leap of faith and instructed Nigel to go inside the store and tell an employee. Okay, he said, and he went and did it. I had never had him do that before, but he certainly knows how to ask for help while looking for a certain DVD at the video store, so I figured he could do this. Moments later he returned and said that someone would be out soon to fix it. My heart nearly burst. I had no idea how it actually went down in there, but the end result was that Nigel got his point across. A guy came out in a few minutes to fix the machine, and inside I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Even now, I never take anything for granted. Even the simplest of things.

Afterward, we went inside to wash our hands and do our shopping. Nigel found the DVD he wanted to rent, and it was only fifty cents. Without my prior knowledge, everything I had already planned to get was on sale – the organic butter lettuce, the Virgil’s Black Cherry Cream Soda, the Haagen Dazs dark-chocolate-on-chocolate ice cream bars. I could see Nigel across the store picking out some candy for himself, and even at fifteen, he just looked so sweet. I reveled in feeling my mother-love. It was like this little trip to the grocery store was my gift for having such a tough week. But the best gift of all was yet to come.

We got in line at the checkout counter and put our things on the belt. As we stood waiting, I heard a girl’s voice say, “Hey, Nigel, how are you?” This was not the first time someone had greeted him in the grocery store, and I quickly assessed her. Some kids make a show of saying hello to Nigel in a manner that indicates that they see him as a novelty. Some kids are nice enough, sincere even, but they don’t really understand him. And once in a great while, a kid will say hello to Nigel, and it’s real. I could tell instantly that this girl was real. She was genuine. Just lovely. Nigel said hi, accepted a hug from her (with his trademark stiffness, which didn’t faze her in the least), and then told her, “This is my mom.” She looked me in the eye, and in my ridiculous current emotional state, it was all I could do not to cry. I wanted to hug her. Because I knew. I just knew that she was the type of kid that we parents of ASD kids hope for. The angels that look out for our kids when we’re not there. I felt it with my entire being—she was definitely one of them. And so, suppressing my urge to throw my arms around her, I told her my name and shook her hand and smiled. And I hoped that my smile conveyed my deepest appreciation. Thank you, sweet girl. Thank you for caring about my son. For not only respecting him, but for including him. Thank you for being the wonderful person I know you are.

After our brief exchange, Nigel told her that he had rented The Time Machine. Not only did she say that it’s a good movie, but when he mentioned that it was based on a book, she knew who had written the book (H.G. Wells) and said that she’d read it and liked it! She totally gets him! Then she said a few more things to Nigel as I paid for our items, and she left. Nigel and I picked up our bags and walked outside. “She seems really nice,” I said. “Yeah,” Nigel said. “She’s in my theater class.”

The tears came then, and I was glad that it was now dark. I hoped that Nigel couldn’t see them, because they would be so hard to explain. Hell, I wasn’t even sure why I was crying. Was it happiness? Relief? Why do so many emotions—especially unidentifiable ones—drive me to tears?

In the end, I think I was just overcome with gratitude. Not just because she was so good to my son, but because, at that moment, she was unwittingly there for me, when I needed her most. At the end of a long, hard, emotional week, she was there. She’s not only Nigel’s angel, she’s mine, too.

25 thoughts on “Emotional Rescue

  1. Kim

    Tears in my eyes. I know what those emotional times feel like, I think we are on the same wavelength here as I have just been blown away by the littlest things this week.

    And the girl?! I wanted to tackle her just reading your post. 🙂 I completely understand.

  2. Kristine

    Ahhh, the simple things are the true essence in life. It is sad just how many people miss out on somethign so important as the little things. I am so glad to hear about Nigel’s success at the supermarket recycle incident and the genuiness of the little girl. I am thankful for those that are placed on this EArth to see us through just when we need it the most.

  3. Jazzygal

    I read this one with tears in my eyes too Tanya!

    What a perfectly timed, wonderful thing to happen, and such an antidote to what had previously happened in school. And something that others may take for granted.

    xx Jazzy

  4. Johanna

    Ok, I haven’t had an emotionally taxing week and I am just making Niagara Falls ashamed of themshelves. I see my own son’s future in so much of what you write…The social unawareness, lack of executive function (I cannot even think about the future implications without getting dizzy), being social pariah. And yet I know that the everyday angels are there. There are people who get the autistic people, see through their lack of social finesse and see the beauty in them. I keep wishing that my son meets some of them on his way through his life. It’s so good that Nigel has this lovely girl in his theatre class. Hope that the deadlines are over and the life moves on into a calmer phase for you.

  5. Carrie N

    “She was genuine. Just lovely. Nigel said hi, accepted a hug from her (with his trademark stiffness, which didn’t faze her in the least)…”

    My heart always pours over with thankfulness and love when we encounter kids like this. So simple and so meaningful.

  6. Holly

    I think that’s just great! There are “angels” like this every once in a while, I just wish Nick wouldnt run away when some appear!!

  7. goodfountain

    So good to hear that the angels are out there.

    I’ve always thought your writing was terrific on your blog, but lately it’s been blowing me away.

  8. angie

    “…Thank you for caring about my son. For not only respecting him, but for including him. Thank you for being the wonderful person I know you are.”

    Truly touching. I have a 6 yo with ASD and I feel exactly the same way when someone “gets” him. Thank you. This post was wonderful.

  9. Paulene Angela

    I am really happy that your paths are crossing and connecting with these angels.

    It’s true, we must keep our faith, beautiful people are all around.

  10. corrie howe

    Tanya, I pray that you’ll get many more opportunities to see how all the hard work for both Nigel and you is paying off in dividends. I pray one day you can go for a little while and not have to worry about all the things that burden you.

    I hope you discover one day that there are more than just human angels watching out over you and your boys.

  11. jess

    i love this story. i love the girl, i love the lack of judgement and i love the fact that someone else moves through the world like a walking raw nerve.

    oh, and love you. 🙂

  12. M

    i wish those people could know how valuable their contributions are. it would be nice if, for just a few seconds, she could have been in your shoes, feeling the relief. if that were possible, people would see: the little things are never little. any amount of help or inclusion is massive, meaningful.

    so, glad you had a good moment there. hope everything is going okay, less stressful. er. sounds like much is going on.

  13. Nicki

    That is awesome! My little sister (who is 14) is a kid like that. She is great friends with a boy with aspergers and also wants to date him but is to shy to ask! 😉 And she joined a club at school where kids in regular classes do activities with peers from special ed classes. I like to think maybe she’s partially like that from knowing me, and being used to being around people who are a little different… but she’s just a good kid. The world needs more of those!!!


    It helps me to hear stories like yous it gives me hope. My son is a good looking kid, by looking at his picture you’d never now how severe his condition is. Small things like I can’t take him into grocery store in fact we’ve been asked to leave every store in town because he has to take his shoes off and put them in the seat of the buggy and seatbelt them in just so and because of health code laws we have to leave when I try to make him keep them on his feet the major meltdown commence. It doesn’t matter how big the store is everyone hears it along with throwing himself on the floor and fighting lashing out at me and believe me he is stronger and soon to be taller than me. I’ve tried a hundred different ways to overcome this problem but to no avail. In public i’ve learn to keep my composure every time I try something again and again. But still the looks the whispers and sometimes thier thoughts I can imagine they’re thinking about me as mother and him as a preteen acting inappropriately still hurts. Our house is basically an autism prison I even have to lock him in his room at bedtime it all breaks my heart but I have to keep him safe right The older he gets the harder it is to stay one step ahead of him. But your right God gave me an autistic son as a gift. It is the little things in the positive direction that mothers with nerotypical kids take for granted will never experience as a true miracle and the joy of something so small really does make a big impact. They’ll miss out on that too. I don’t have a support group but would really like to have people to talk to who relly gets it. Please get back to me when you can, I have lots to talk about. thanx for listening,
    Dalton’s Mom,
    Lisa Malone

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