Autism, Depression, and My Family Trip To Disney World
I write a lot but most of what I write here is safely contained within the parameters of academic type topics. But sometimes my soul is yearning for a little more freedom. I feel write-y tonight and so I feel that I cannot ignore the urge. Who knows when I will feel this way again.
The writing helps. I want to tell you that. It not only helps to get things out. It also helps you to connect. It is tranforming to be heard and to know that someone out there may be reading these words and a little part of them is saying, "me too."
Was thinking tonight about those moments in life which can best be described as "bittersweet." Usually there is a sense of profound sadness (this is the bitter part) but it is meshed with such beauty (this is the sweet part) that you eagerly drink it down. I suppose it is when you feel humbled, down on your knees but also open and stretching your arms out wide to embrace the vastness of it. It is...the experience of being human.
I have felt this bittersweetness many times in my life, after all I am 45 and have lived many years. There is one time in my recent memory where I felt this and I wanted to write about it tonight.
It happened in Walt Disney World of all places. I happen to love Walt Disney World. I first fell in love with the place as a little girl watching the Disney movie at 7pm (I still remember the time) on Sunday nights. I would sit in front of our big 'ol box TV...no remotes back then...and get so excited seeing Cinderella's castle...and the fireworks lighting up the sky. I wanted to go to this place so badly. My mother and I were poor, living in the inner city, and I could only see such a place on my TV screen. I never got to see it as a child. So I would imagine it...all the rides...all the smiling faces...all the mouse ears....main street...all this magic and hope.
So when I finally grew up and actually went there...I was like a little girl again...wistful and open eyed. Oh and to take my kids there...wow.
I have spoken of my youngest son here before. He has autism. And he happens to love Disney World as much as I do...probably more. We went there last Thanksgiving. The whole place was decorated for Christmas and they had this light display where they made it snow...you know the snow was fake but...it was still enchanting.
Confession here...if you haven't already suspected...I am a big sap. My favorite ride at Walt Disney World is probably one most people would never wait in line for. I am a sucker for "It's a small world." If you don't know anything about this ride...it is a boat ride through all the different countries where these dolls are dressed up in their native costumes and singing "It's a small world" in their language. I insisted my family go on the ride. My eldest teen-age son put up with it and my husband patiently waited as well.
But my son Max...was eager to go on it. We wait in the "special" line because of his autism and as I standing there I was watching some of the faces looking at us. It was like this division of...humanity. There was the whole world and then there was us on this other side...my son was making his sounds he makes and hopping. There was someone in a wheelchair far ahead of us. Behind us was an older version of my son with his parents...this boy was taller than his parents but rocking and soflty moaning. Immediately ahead of us was a mother and father who took turns carrying their daughter who was dressed like a princess. The little girl was so delicate, her one leg in a brace...her arms clutching her mother's neck. Every now and then the girl would yell out and it sounded like a bird cooing. The mother was dressed in a beautiful Indian sari. The mother and father gently talked to each other in their native language. And before us...the parents of the older version of my son...were speaking with their native British accent. I marveled at this microcosm of worlds within a world.
We ended up sharing the boat ride with the family from India and I got a chance to see the mother's face as she was looking at her daughter. There was such love there. The mom smiled and...I recognized the look...it was a look that I am sure I have had on my face as well. There was joy there and love but behind the smile was pain too. It was like a mirror into my own soul. And I am not sure I was ready to see it.
Maybe it was the darn sappy music of "It's a small world" but...I wanted to reach out to that mom...or maybe I wanted someone to reach out to me. The sweetness of the moment was so excruciating...I wanted to cry. But I didn't. Instead I smiled too.
I even sang.