An Anniversary of a Different Kind

Today, 18 years ago, my husband asked me to marry him, and I said yes. Back then I would go any place with him if he asked, even if it included a mundane task. That morning the exotic destination was our college library, and the exciting task was returning books for his older brother.

I came to the door of my apartment that morning still on the phone with hot rollers in my hair. He was early and I was not expecting him, so when I opened the door I was surprised to find him down on one knee. I thought he must have dropped something, so while still talking on the phone I started helping him look for the missing item, until….

He held out the box and mouthed, “Hang up the phone.” I didn’t even say goodbye. I just hung up the phone with jaw dropped, while pulling rollers out of my hair desperately trying to recover the moment. After turning down the tv, I turned back around to him. After a chuckle, he proposed, and I said yes.

I said yes to “for better and for worse”, “in sickness and health”, “til death do us part.” What makes me smile now about this moment in our history is not just the proposal or how my husband must have rehearsed it in his mind but never once imagined it the way it unfolded. No, what makes me smile is how our entire marriage has been filled with unexpected bends and breaks in the road, and all it took to walk it together was one word – “yes”.

His proposal was not just fulfilled with an unexpected scene, it became an invitation to join him on whatever path the Lord would guide us down together. Only God knew what our path would hold, because He lovingly dug His finger down deep in the soil of our lives and took us down a path we would never willingly go if we knew how difficult it would be in places. I am forever thankful for having travelled together.

I am so thankful that my husband did not abort his mission when he saw how I looked in curlers, or how distracted I was on the phone with the tv blaring. I often think about how he could have slipped the ring back in his pocket while I was looking for whatever was dropped on the ground – waiting for a better opportunity. Instead, my husband just took it for what it was and pushed through as he often does in all unexpected moments. I think my husband understood that perfect is not as important as invested long before I ever did.

Not only was this date special 18 years ago, it became an anniversary of a different kind two years ago when my son received his official Autism diagnosis. After years of seeing him struggle to speak, have difficulty with social interactions, to battle with managing emotions, the words came across the small space of the clinic room, “Your son has Autism.”

Uniquely, today, as I saw the date I thought about the proposal first – and not the Autism diagnosis. I have turned a corner!

When I first received the diagnosis, my heart and mind filled with a measure of grief and anxiety I had never before experienced. Early on, every day seemed consumed with questions about the future:

Would he ever clearly talk?

Would he have his own friends?…date?….marry?

Would he have a job?

Will he always live with us?

Would I ever know how he feels or what he thinks?

Will he ever understand Autism?

This is a bare minimum of questions that flooded me almost daily. So many worries; so many unknowns; even though I was battling to trust God through the questions, it was still a lot of questions!

Today…. I realized that it has been a while since I drowned under the weight of the Autism Diagnosis. I realized that what I had once been so frightened to hear before two years ago, had slowly become our new normal. Now it is not just a new normal….it is a normal normal. Autism is not as scary as it once was. Yes, there are some hard, heavy moments, but today it isn’t dreaded or heavy or even special. It is normal.

While I would never choose Autism for myself, my son, or our family, I can see its blessings. Because I said “yes” once 18 years ago, I was saying “a million yes-es” to all the years after, complete with all the bends and breaks in the road.

…and I would say yes all over again, hair curlers and all! I love you Brett.

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