Last night I dreamed that I had a conversation with Oliver. I don't recall what we talked about but it was as if we had always been talking together. When I woke and the warmth of the dream receded I held at bay the tears that came threatening. My tears weren't of sadness but for the hope of possibilities realized. Hope is something that I hold to very tightly. I protect it; I nurture it. But all the while I feel compelled to remind myself not to be too explicit in my hopes for the future because, while I believe that Oliver will talk, will play ball with his father, will ride a bike, I don't want to risk being disappointed if he doesn't. The line between being disappointed in not being able to share something, like halloween, about which I have some preconceived idea, and being disappointed in Oliver, is just too devastatingly close.
Oliver has been thrilling me lately with little explosions of speech that are so clear and in context that when I hear him from another part of the house I have a hard time grasping that it is actually him. The feeling of hearing his voice so strong and clear is pure and utter joy. It renews me. When I picked him up from pre-school yesterday his aide, the teacher and the OT excitedly told me that they had introduced a game similar to Duck, Duck, Goose only this one was about Snowmen. Without prompting Oliver got up and tapped each kid on the head and said, "Snowman". He also sat in circle time for 25 minutes, which is a record for him. Hearing these little anecdotes and reading the daily communication notes and progress reports keeps me going and I think, energizes the rest of Team Oliver.
It is six months now since Autism has come to occupy me. Having left my job to focus on Oliver, it is now my predominant occupation. I wake up thinking about it, fall asleep at night having just closed the cover on the latest book, and turn the word over in my head a million times in between. I am getting good at sifting through the theories and hypotheses; separating the wheat from the chaffe. I have learned to use Oliver as my guidepost, weighing and measuring the advice of the "experts" against what I know to be true of Oliver. Learning to trust myself, to trust my intuition has been a hard won achievement. So much of that was wiped out when we received the diagnosis. Why didn't I catch it earlier? How could I have let him slip so quietly away from us without even really noticing? Why had my instincts failed me?
In one of my very first entries in this blog, I wrote about how I felt that I had found myself in a liminal state of motherhood. This is true less and less. I am finding my footing and feel much less vulnerable. I still have a ways to go but holding on to hope and learning to be thankful for where we are today is giving me a good solid place to move on from.