Friday, March 12, 2021

Autism Answer: I Haven't Met You Yet (A letter to my granddaughter)


                                                                                                              March 11, 2021
Dear Aislinn, 
Tomorrow you will be one week old and I still haven't met you. 
Oh, you spent some time here with me and Ian before you were born. I had the pleasure of singing to you, of feeling you shift around in mommy's womb. You were here with your dad, mom, and big sister, Clarke. My heart - my heart! - when I remember your sweet sister here calling out, "Gweema!" and letting me wrap grateful grandma arms around her itty bitty body. 
I love you, Aislinn. I just haven't met you yet. 
You've been born into a world swirling thickly with ideas, desires, needs, and beliefs that splash and clash and dance, diminish and expand, hurt and heal. (I don't only mean us grown-ups tend to argue and debate, I'm also referring to the balance of nature itself which is brilliant, bold, and assertive.)
Your cousins and sister were born into this same world, too. We all were. But you, Aislinn, arrived at a time when this swirling world is keeping me away. There are travel restrictions and a virus whose spread we're trying to limit. Unlike any time in my life, Aislinn, the world is working on the same problem at the same time. There are a surprising number of sides to this story little one, and I am just one grandma with a few thoughts, no big answers or fighting words, but my relationship with you begins in this moment no matter how few or big my thoughts and words are.
I love your cousins, I love your sister, and I love you. You are all singular and extraordinary. I crave your spirits and care more than feels manageable about your hearts and souls. All of you.
You are all special to me. But you, Aislinn, are newly special. A love of my life that I cannot hold in my hungry arms. They ache, Aislinn, with the lack of you. I held your sister, not long ago, for hours and hours and hours. My arms ached with her weight, with my desire to meet her needs as she slept ever-so-lightly. Do you sleep ever-so-lightly, sweet snuggle bug? My arms do not know. My arms ache to know.
So you and I are starting off learning each other in this new way. 
I do get to see you. Pictures, videos, and video chatting are not substitutes for the real thing but they are real. I can sing to you and watch you with your sister. Watch you with your mom and dad. Hear your little voice as you cry out. (Although, I have not yet heard your little voice. Do you have a loud cry? Do you demand attention from the world or simply call out to those close to you? I don't know these things. I want to know these things.) 
I love you too much not to learn this with you. This way of getting to know each other. And, do you know little pumpkin pie, that we are not alone? There are millions of others unable to gather or snuggle or show up. So many others who cannot lean on their usual ways to connect with each other and celebrate life. So, like us, they are figuring it out. 
I hope that we are all stretched to be better because of this. With you being born I have so many reasons to care about using this moment well. Not only because you and your sister and cousins are in this world and I want it to be a place where we use moments well, but also because I am trying to use this moment well and I'm noticing a few things.
Surprisingly, I feel myself resisting. I want to hold you and sing to you, I wanted to be there with you and your sister from the beginning, be the helper-self I know me to be for your mom and dad, so I catch myself resisting the joy of this new way. This being apart way. Partly because this new way is temporary (I will hold you and be with you, Aislinn, I just don't know when) but mostly because I know how much I love the other way and I don't want to lose that. Silly grandma! I can love both ways. And this is the way we have right now. 
Also, the world is sort of smaller but also sort of bigger. Because we are unable to travel and visit much, we are practicing new ways of being together. And if we practice being honest and authentic and vulnerable in these new ways, we can grow in unexpected directions. I'm sorry to tell you little love bug, but even before the travel and visits were limited people struggled to connect in meaningful ways. This is something I can't wait to discuss with you as you grow, but for now just know that we - as a world, but also you and me - have been almost forced to contend with this. To explore where we've been lacking and make changes. 
So, sweet snuggle bug, we are building something new together. Well, new to me I guess. You are learning this from the beginning. 
More reason for me to do it well. 
Aislinn, you matter so much to me. You and your sweet cheeks and full head of hair have my heart. Yet I am no one to you; I know that. But I will build something with you. 
You are singular and extraordinary to me. 
We will navigate this new relationship together and build something unexpected and unrivaled.
I love you, Aislinn.
I just haven't met you yet. 
P.S. "Haven't Met You Yet" is a song by Michael Buble, a singer your Uncle Declyn likes. I have been singing that hook in my head since you were born and, this is something I can tell you about me, I like that it has an upbeat tempo. It's a fun song. I like using it to remind myself to be happy and remember that I will meet you, it just hasn't happened yet. I love using song lyrics to feel things. Oh, and I can be annoyingly positive sometimes (ask your dad, he's comfortable saying I'm annoying sometimes. tee hee!) but mostly I'm just normal positive, not annoying. Positive.
Hugs, smiles, and love!!!
Photo Credit: Obviously, not me. I haven't met her yet! This pic was taken by baby's mom, Aly. Beautiful!