I always enjoyed the Fall season and am drawing upon this experience from memory as this took place in October 2005.
As we stayed by Matthew’s side throughout the day and read stories we knew he was being monitored by the doctors and medical staff by video. It was quite a learning experience and one I would never forget as I knew these tests were crucial in determining what lies ahead for our son in the form of a proper diagnosis and the necessary treatment required. I was at times thinking that this was just a bad dream and I would wake up and Matthew would be fine with no need for all this medical attention. The reality however was that this was not a bad dream and I was constantly reminded of that when I would see the brain wave readings and heard the sounds of all the medical equipment performing what they are meant to so the doctors can properly evaluate Matthew’s medical condition. I sometimes had to take a break so I would walk out to the refreshment area and grab a soda and snack and just sit alone for a short time and just pray for my son that he will be ok.
When you see your child with medical concerns you can’t help but worry for them and try to deal with the situation with clear thought and with courage to properly find the necessary care and treatment. I know my son will have limitations but we will raise him and instill in him that he is a special boy and he has a lot of potential and he can do anything he puts his mind to. My parents and teachers instilled this in me and we will do the same for our son because there is no greater joy than to see your child grow and enjoy life’s experiences and adapt so they can meet the challenges that life poses. My son already has challenges ahead but he will know that his potential is limitless and he can do whatever he so wishes. We expose him to positive reinforcement and instill in him that he should never give up. He should always put his best effort forward. With autistic children there are times when your patience is tested and times when you just want to cry and just ask why is this so hard? I do not wish to experience these moments of weakness but sometimes it just happens because we can not always expect perfection and must take a moment and just find some peace and quiet so we can understand that it is not all about us.
We must find the strength to see the bigger picture and I must realize that my most important role as Matthew’s dad is to provide him with the emotional support, love and bond that only a father and son can enjoy that will last throughout our lives. My love for my son came at 5:20 am on December 8th, 1998 when I saw the nurse gently cradle him and wrap him in the traditional hospital blanket upon Maria’s giving birth and that love has grown stronger every day.
As I arrived back in the room I took a seat as I was tired of standing for hours and glanced at the tv every now and then while focusing on Matthew. Maria was tired as she did not really sleep that well last night and I suggested that she try to take a nap since she planned on staying the night again. I was very proud of her because I know how much she loves our son and how we try to help him knowing that we can only do so much and that we need to rely on so many others as well.
Our son is so brave and I just felt inspired by his spirit the same way I felt when I met the sick little girl who had the cutest little smile and was battling such a big illness. Believe me when I say I have done my share of crying as I realize what being a human being is really about. It certainly is not about material things we strive for like the stylish homes or the large bank accounts or the fancy cars. Life is about passing our love and what we’ve been taught by our parents, family, teachers, friends and employers to our children so they can experience and benefit and grow and provide a life for themselves.
As the day crept into early evening we were growing tired and needed to know when we would have a visit with Matthew’s doctor. I wanted to plan on coming back early in the morning and hoped that the results of the monitoring and brain readings would be available for discussion. I needed to prepare for speaking with the doctors and told Maria and Matthew I was ready to go home to get some sleep and would be up by 9:30 am. By the time I left after giving Maria and Matthew a kiss goodnight it was near 9:00 pm and I fell asleep in our bedroom alone with the tv on to keep me company preparing for another long day tomorrow thinking of my wonderful wife and our precious son.