Tonight at the Y, I was frantically trying to get my spin done so I could hurry home to eat dinner and get on with other chores that I am falling behind on and maybe even spend a few minutes with my kiddos before bedtime.
From across the room, I noticed a woman and a young man, probably in his late teens, maybe even his early 20s. I could ascertain that this young man was the woman's son and was autistic. He was not very verbal, but he was physically very fit and able-bodied. His mother was helping him complete his workout on the Cybex machines. She would run him through his sets, then he would sit directly in front of her while she did hers.
She was so kind. She was so loving. She was so patient. I have always thanked God for the health of my children, and I have watch my children struggle with different situations from learning difficulties to emotional health problems. I have close friends that have children with very serious health conditions and I have always admired them. The parent of a special needs child lives a life of complete sacrifice and constant devotion. If I am having a particularly bad spell with a child of mine, I can get out for a bit alone and get myself back on track.
The parents of a special needs child does not get this option. These saints on earth dedicate their entire lives, for the rest of their lives, helping to care for, sometimes completely, these beautiful souls from Heaven. I know how difficult this must be as I have talked with many parents that have children requiring this level of care. These are the most selfless people who take on the most often thankless job of caregiver.
For a moment last night, I felt somewhat guilty. I mean, here I am training for an Ironman. Worried about silly things like, "Will I have time to fit a swim in tomorrow if I am running child A to all of their appointments." And this woman, helping her son as I am sure she has done every day of his life up to this point, will more than likely never have the time to dedicate to what I am blessed to do. I began to feel a bit shallow, and again, I thanked God for the health of my children and their ability to grow to be independent adults one day. Then I began to feel sorrow for her. Until....
Her back was to me as she sat on the Cybex machine getting ready to do her set. Her son sat dutifully directly in front of her and I could see his face. He was so happy! He was looking at his mother with the most beautiful eyes and smile I have ever seen! He took her hand and rubbed in on his head, seeking comfort from her. She accommodated him. Then he took her hand and kissed it. Over and over and over again. He kissed her hand. And I saw Jesus. Kissing the hand of Our Blessed Mother. And it was beautiful.
In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.