Do you have memories of seemingly random things that you find yourself recalling over and over again without really knowing why? For instance, when I worked at Excite(.com) I managed our account with Universal Television. My Universal counterpart was a (very) white guy named James Brown who was a once-professional magician turned business-y guy. For some odd reason, during one of our meetings he told me that he'd also worked in an emergency room and that he saw a ton of people come in with giant gashes on their hands from cutting bagels. I, being a bagel-lover who eats one nearly everyday slathered with some tasty Irish butter, think about this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. that I eat a freaking bagel. (And, I suppose, now you will too!)
Anyhow, the real point of this is a memory from when I lived in the Bay Area the last time...probably circa 1999. I remember going to the San Bruno Target to return something. The line was probably about 10 people long and moving at a snail's pace. There was a Mom a few people in front of me, and her young son--maybe six years old--was sitting in a chair to the side of the line. This little boy was clearly autistic, even to me, a newishly married, non-parent whose nephew was still two years away from diagnosis and whose own child was four years away from being born. I don't have a lot of the details left in my brain of exactly what behaviors this little guy was exhibiting other than the fact that he was quite obsessed with putting his hand down his pants and even at one point inadvertently flashed us out one side of his shorts. I remember trying really hard not to stare. I also remember feeling really terrible for the Mom who was getting so flustered with her son as well as the one cashier available to process returns. She was doing some huffing and puffing; rolling her eyes and continually telling her son to 'not do that.'
I find it so interesting that I came back to this memory so often in my life and now...I am this memory. I am that Mom whose child inappropriately touches himself and sometimes even pulls his pants down a little too far in public. I am the Mom who huffs and puffs and gets sweaty when things get a little too stressful while we are out and I can feel the eyes of a hundred people staring down at me.
I've always had a very strong sense of intuition. I do not discount the fact that that event, 10 years ago, was likely the universe's way of providing me with some foreshadowing.
I hope that I smiled an understanding, do-not-worry-so-much, kind of smile to that Mom. I hope that I was not one of the faces that caused her more stress. I hope that she and her son are in a much more comfortable place today. The early years of this journey through autism are so tough. Those who've plowed this path before us always say 'It does get easier.'
Let's just hope they're right.