The one year mark passed without much notice at our household. The night before August 4th I thought back 52 weeks and remembered how I sat listening to all those professionals tell me about my son while I breastfed Sam and pretended that I had to memorize every soft downy hair on his infant head. And then I remembered how I couldn't get through the days that followed without crying. Two, three months I grieved outright, followed by a dull echo, an aching sadness the color of grey winter sky. But those days passed too, unbelieveably. And life has become again routine. So much so that I only thought again about the significance of the day once it had passed.
And indeed, by the time I thought again about what the last year has meant to us, and to Oliver, I had so many things to feel good about that I didn't have time to linger on what has come and gone.
On Saturday morning Oliver indicated that he had to use the toilet by leading his therapist by the hand into the bathroom. Prior to that we spent a good deal of time over the past nine months anticipating (and, disasterously, not) when he had to go. So this was certainly a step in the right direction. The next day we went for a hike but forgot to put him on the potty first. Nik helped him make use of the great outdoors and I was, frankly, surprised that they had any success. Well something about the power of peeing standing up apparently intrigued Oliver so much that since then we haven't been able to keep him out of the bathroom. In fact, he drank so much water that on Monday I counted 4 successful trips to the toilet in 90 minutes. Now when I look around and can't find Oliver there will inevitably follow the telltale sound of flushing!
The past few days have also seen a remarkable increase in his use of language. His vocabulary itself isn't what has me so excited, but rather it is his willingness to speak. There had been times in the past when no amount of prompting, cajoling or pleading on my part would get Oliver to say even one word. But lately he is repeating us -- spontaneously. Of course that is still not communication, exactly, but hey, at least it seems that he is trying to meet us somewhere in the middle. After almost two years of silence I can live with that.
And there are other things that seem like cause for excessive celebration, including an actual moment of interactive play with a little girl named, of all things, Hope. Last night at the library Oliver joined a little girl in play with some barnyard animal figures. First he took the horse, then the cow, carefully repeating "horse", "cow", as she offered them to him and I thought I could literally feel my heart pushing against my rib cage. Then the two of them walked their respective animals through the barn doors, layed them down and made snoring noises like it was some kind of great animal slumber party. Oliver said "bye" and I had to resist the urge to give little Hope a hug when her mother finally called her away.
The other important, amazing bit of progress that has come about is imitation. Imitation, the great building block of learning, is something that does not come naturally to Oliver. But over the last week or so he has somehow learned. Now, if you happened to come by and look in my window one afternoon (which I hope you won't do because my house is a mess!) you might see me call out: "Hey Oliver!" Then, when he glances in my direction, you would see me throw my arms up in the air and, after a pregnant moment, you would see him do the same and then the two of us collapse in a pile of tickling and giggles. If you hadn't been reading along you might not know that neither of those things -- the look or the action -- would have been possible a few months ago.
It has been quite a year. Not a year I ever would have imagined. But still, quite a year.