There is a season for everything, and a time for every event under heaven...
I don't know where to begin...
We are on our way to a vacation and anniversary celebration of a lifetime! This day we've longed for and dared to hope could really, really, really happen - is here. All those words above - and more - describe how I feel. One of them -- guilty -- is perhaps what I feel most. Guilty that we are getting an opportunity all of us in the autism community need but that most do not get --- a respite vacation.
We long for that time away to do what everyone else can do at times, all except for us it seems... Get away and just relax. Brandon's vacation where he gets to attend camp for 4 days is his vacation. His chance to get away from autism and just be a young man. This coming week, is our chance to get away from autism and just be us. But true to "Life with Autism" our vacation will not be a typical one. Relax is something we most likely will not do much of except in knowing that we are getting a break from the daily care giving and advocacy demands of autism. That's what "relax" means to this autism family. Once set free --- we must as my friend Teresa so eloquently put it "go a hundred miles an hour with our hair on fire" in cramming all that we possibly can in that vacation because we don't know when the next opportunity to escape will be. A whole decade of things we've wanted to do, we are going to attempt to cram into seven days. Kayak, watch a sunrise over a volcano, hike in a Bamboo forest, on a volcano, swim in a waterfall, scuba dive, snorkel with sea turtles...
The plans for this amazing respite miracle were started long ago without me even realizing it. Well, last fall to be exact. During one of the most difficult periods of our lives with Brandon's seizures. One day I received an e-mail from someone I know only via autism connections, not even in person. On behalf of their non-profit organization, Happy Someday, Inc. - they let me know that we were nominated to receive a respite vacation. Not only were we nominated for that -- but we were chosen.
Needless to say, I didn't believe it. Things that seem too good to be true, for us have been --- not true! But, I met with them to see if it was legit, and indeed it was. I cried in that office at just the possibility of going -- not even comprehending a reality where we could go. My faith so strong that I didn't even tell Todd about it! Ha ha ha! My thinking was that if it turned out that we couldn't go, I wanted to be the only one who would be disappointed. I couldn't bear for Todd to be crushed if it didn't work out where Grandparents could come stay with Brandon, etc. So by my lonesome, I met with them and they asked things we liked to do, how far we would feel comfortable traveling, -- either local, in the state, out of state, out of country! How much time we felt comfortable being away... Based on our likes/dislikes they gave us (me) some choices - and I chose - and then began the painful waiting process of "God, could we really???? Please, please, please?????"
It was during those months where Brandon was at his worse that those seeds were being planted. A dear friend putting me in touch with a doctor who is helping get Brandon on a seizure-free streak. Brandon getting better and stronger and sleeping in the night again so that those who are here caring for him won't have at least those horrendous yeast beasts and die-off to get through all night. Another dear friend who started the wheels in motion for this amazing respite vacation opportunity for us.
Sometimes I get so blinded by the torrential downpour during a storm, that I can't possibly see how God could be working his HOPEISM miracles through it. But indeed he was working a mighty one. One of my favorite songs has a line that goes, "Sometimes He calms the storm, and other times he calms his child..." God was doing both. He was calming the storm for Brandon in putting us in touch with a doctor who would help, and he was calming us perhaps in not taking our storm away, but giving us a brief opportunity for respite from it.
And now a downpour of tears as I think about this miracle that so many had a part in for us. The prayer partners for Brandon. Happy Someday, Inc. and those who donate to their organization so that they can help families like mine have a respite vacation. The friend who helped with a doctor. The friend who nominated us for this opportunity. The friend who gave additional support of our need for respite. The Grandparents who will be staying here with Brandon.
It's overwhelming to think about the miracle this has all been.
Which makes it all the harder to believe that there could be more.
Yet there is.
Our Silver Anniversary.
I still had not shared any of this with Todd. I figured that once we had our airline tickets and a place to stay confirmed -- then maybe it would be real. Then it would be safe to tell him, and I could tell him about it as an Anniversary gift. Well, it was real. I had the airline tickets, the condo confirmation, and the organization had made up a card for me detailing where we were going and put it in a gift bag with some novelties depicting where we would be going, and when we were leaving. It was time to tell him so that he could make arrangements with work. And so with Brandon in the house humming, I brought Todd out to our Log Cabin and gave him the gift bag to open. The card from Happy Someday to read. I could tell as he was reading it and it was sinking in, that he didn't believe it either. Oh us of little faith! Ha ha ha! A Silver Anniversary respite vacation. What, in our world other than total healing of Brandon's autism, could have ever possibly been better than that? So very many Anniversary's spent home with Brandon's humming -- and this one -- our 25th Wedding Anniversary at that -- we get to celebrate in a place we've never even allowed ourselves the possibility to consider that we could ever go to!
There is one thing that could possibly top all that.
Our son and his wife, our daughter.
While I was keeping all this a secret from Todd, I did share it with Matt. I needed to share it with someone. I needed for someone who knows our life, who fully understand the crazy, mad, lunacy of our life, to be as excited for us as I was. When I told Matt about it, I asked if there was any crazy, mad, wonderful possibility he could join us. He and Tiff could share the condo with us. I think Matt was thinking it before I said it, because before I even asked, he said he was going to find a way to come! He knew how few vacations we've actually had together, and this one, this one would make up for a whole lot of those! I love how there was no question in his mind that he would want to join us, even if it meant sleeping on the floor! So, if it wasn't horrendous enough keeping this secret so long, it was even more horrendous waiting on a Navy system that does not know the meaning of anything other than hurry up and wait! The organization providing the respite sent him a letter explaining this opportunity for our family that he could turn in with his request for leave. He did. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Hoping, praying, hoping, doubting. Again with the too good to be true... A Silver Anniversary. A respite vacation. To hope that it could include our son and daughter, well that would be just downright impossible.
But again with the exceedingly abundant from "Part One" of this story. God is Exceedingly Abundant -- in all things. He loves to make what we think is impossible -- possible. I received a text one day with a picture of his leave request. Approved. Signed. Real. I printed it out to include in the memory book for this summer, which is definitely one to remember. We would get to share in this anniversary celebration and respite vacation with our son and daughter-in-law...
Again with the tears.
The only bummer in all that - is how Matt & Tiff wanted to surprise Todd in Maui. For weeks I, she-who-hates-secrets, kept so many secrets about this from Todd! Matt and I would be texting plans, excursions, etc. All without Todd having a clue that Matt and Tiff would be there too. In our world of the-only-surprises-we-get-are-poop-floating-in-the-tub or seizures-five-minutes-before-time-to-leave-for-date-night -- this would have been a really welcome surprise! If I didn't blow it! Todd always light-heartedly complains that I don't talk much. I don't. I'm a writer or listener. Not a chatty talker person. But one evening while he was grilling burgers for us, I was sitting with him out in the "Log Cabin" looking through our "Maui Revealed" guide book. I was telling him about all the things I had lined up for us to do, and casually said, "Oh, and Tiff and I will need to remember to bring our dramamine when we go on the road to Hana..."
I realized it the second it was out - and hoped Todd was a husband that tuned out his chatty wife. But no. He was on that like Chevy on a lizard. He's like, "Why would Tiff need to remember to bring dramamine on our vacation?"
Ha ha ha!
God does love to show off. Our 25th Wedding Anniversary was July 25th. Our son turns 21 on July 6th. Our daughter turns 21 on August 4th. We will all be together from July 2nd through July 10th to celebrate all those milestone events.
What a 21st Birthday for Matt to remember!
Thank you God.
"So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up."
That verse will always symbolize today for me.
We are on our way to Maui.
Our Happy Someday is today.
And there's only one thing left to say...