Nearly one year ago, I sat in a cramped room with unpleasant, flickering lights, while a doctor I barely knew told me you were autistic.
The me sitting in that room is a half a million minutes away; a great gulf of time and experience separates us. I hardly know the path I took to get here – or how the schism that divides us became so clear. She cannot conceive of this future. Her mind is overrun with fear, her heart crushed by panic; she can see no clear way ahead – no way that fear will ever lessen.
On the drive home from work, I often see primary children spilling out of school gates, collected by parents and child-minders. Their bright faces are animated as they desperately seek to share their days. They skip along, flapping their book wallets, eager to keep up with the adult strides that are so much larger than their own.
I do not know if you will ever race, breathless, from the school gates, bursting to tell me about your day. I do not know if you will bring home books for us to read together. I do not know, even, if you will be able go to the same kind of school as those children.
But I know those children had smiles on their faces, and if I see your smiles every day, then that will be enough.
On the high-street there are groups of teenage boys and girls, no more than fifteen, all carefully coiffured and preened, taking care to project an air of casual indifference. The boys are groomed and gelled – they throw occasional nervous glances in the girls’ direction. I remember those first flirtations and heartaches well.
On Facebook and twitter I see friends, and friends of friends, wish their sons and daughters good luck in their GCSEs – pictures of fresh-faced boys and girls, and comments about how proud they are, how quickly the time has passed, roll along my computer screen.
I do not know if you will ever gel your hair or flirt with a girl on the highstreet. I do not know if I will ever wish you luck for your GCSEs, or, even, if you will take them.
But I do know that every little thing you achieve will make me proud, that I will shout every triumph from the rooftops, however small, or however bitterly fought for – and that will be enough.
At school, the sixth formers are applying for university. I know they think long and hard about what they want to be, where they want to go. The prospect of being flung into an entirely independent world is heady – terrifying and wonderful at the same time. They tell me about the courses they want to study, the cities they want to live in. I cannot imagine how lonely their parents’ houses will feel, when they are gone.
I do not know if you will ever go to university. I do not know if I will ever wander into your childhood room and feel the bitter spike of longing that you are a man grown, and gone. I do not know, even, if you will be able to live on your own, leave home, seek your fortune.
But I know wherever you are, whatever your life brings, I will be there, in whatever way you need me to be – and that will be enough.
I think back to when I met your father. The thrill of realising I loved him, the things we have shared – staring up at the night sky full of stars on the road outside my parents’ house – the day I promised to love him forever and the way the lace of my wedding dress felt under my fingers – when we both looked down on your little face for the first time, and our lives changed forever.
I do not know if you will get married, kiss someone under the stars, have children of your own. I do not know if you will one day look into someone’s eyes and realise you love them. I do not know, even, if falling in love is something you will want, need.
But I do know I love you. Always, forever, to the depth and breadth of the ocean – whether you run from primary school, whether you sit exams, leave home, have children, fall in love.
And that, gorgeous boy, is enough.
You – will always be enough.
To read more about our autism journey, you may like ‘Autism? More like bad parenting.’
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