The other day someone asked me to “say a little prayer that the Colts win the Super Bowl.” Was he kidding? As a parent of a child with autism, my prayers are reserved for my son. On the off-chance that there really is someone up in heaven that is listening to me, why would I pray for a Super Bowl championship (not that we aren’t fans – we have held season tickets for more than 15 years)? No, my prayers are reserved for Nick. I’d rather pray that he talks in sentences. I’d pray that he makes a friend. I’d pray that he could have a conversation with me. I’d pray that he doesn’t have to put his fingers in his ears to block out the noise when we visit a museum, a movie or any indoor event. I’d pray that he would be able to read. I’d pray that he could live a normal life – go to college, fall in love, have kids of his own.
Last week was my husband’s birthday and we went out for lunch with his mom. At the end of the meal, they brought him a dessert adorned with a lit candle and my mother-in-law asked what he would wish for. My husband and I, both affected by the poor economy, are out of work, so she figured he’d wish for a new job. But no, we looked at each other and he said that wishes are always reserved for Nick. How could we even choose a wish for just us? What could we possibly wish for that would be more important than adding to Nick’s life (okay … in this case a household income might be a good idea!) But, what if by some miracle these things really do come true? We can’t NOT do it for him! So, if an eyelash falls – it’s a wish for Nick. Throw a penny in the fountain – another wish! Falling stars, wishbones, necklace clasps, dandelions, ladybugs … wish, wish, wish.
Does any of it really come true? Probably not – so why do we keep doing it? It’s like buying a lottery ticket – a few minutes of hoping that his quality of life will change fast and miraculously. Hope is that feeling in your heart of good things to come. We all hope for a better tomorrow and if hoping keeps you going, then I’m all for it.
Isn’t it odd that I’ve never (really, never) wished or prayed that Nick didn’t have autism. It has never been about what was, but rather what could be. We went through the first couple years of his life testing him for everything – was it apraxia, a hearing loss; how about Fragile X? Why, or why wasn’t, this adorable little munchkin progressing like he was supposed to? Always looking forward, is there a way to fix it?
As Nick’s parent, I’m often struck by how ordinary life seems. Day in and day out, Nick lives with his family and we understand and love him. So, on this week before the Super Bowl, I reflect on these prayers and wishes that we all say. I’m sure that there are thousands of people throughout Indianapolis that will be saying prayers on Sunday for the Colts. But, I hope they don’t forget to put things in perspective. Do these guys – making millions, living in big houses, and driving fast cars – really need our prayers? With all the sadness in the world, reserve those prayers and wishes for the people in need.
In the end, I won’t pray for the Colts to win the Super Bowl although I will be watching the game and cheering them on. No, instead they will have to rely on the same things Nick does – hard work, practice and dedication to get them through.
This “In Their Own Words” essay is written by Karri Alberti.
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