As the parent of a child with autism, one of the overriding thoughts I’ve had (other than the initial “oh crap, what do I do now?”) was the long-term care of my son after I die. I’ve heard Jenny McCarthy say the solution to this is just not to die. As this may seem the only option and as good as it may sound, I’ve never heard of it actually being done. So that still leaves me with the question of who will take care of my son after I’m gone.
From what I’ve seen, society has done a fairly good job of attempting to draw a pretty dismal picture for our children, and I’m doing everything I can to take a big dang eraser and erasing that picture. In place of it, I’m trying to draw him a picture of hope for a fighting chance in this world. The fact still remains that my son may need assistance for the rest of his life. But from where will that assistance come?
Out of the myriad of possibilities, there is one that is emerging. And that one seems and is becoming more and more realistic as the one “soldier” who will stand against autism in my stead. That just happens to be Harrison’s 5-year old little brother, Isaac. Out of him, I see a love growing for his older brother that goes beyond the arguments over the tablet and whether Mario is better than Luigi. This brotherly love will stretch beyond any challenge that autism has to offer. He’s starting to see and realize that his older brother has some “illnesses” (as he puts it) but doesn’t seem to care. He even asks his older brother if what he’s about to eat is gluten free and if he needs to eat his “apple candy” (No-Fenol). He’s starting to understand why his older brother has to take so many pills and go to so many therapies.
I recently asked Isaac if he ever gets tired of having to go to all the appointments, and he replied, “Sometimes, but it helps Harrison gets better.” So then I commented, “And that’s what we all want.” Isaac added, “Of course. He’s my brother, and I love him.” Such selflessness at five years of age. That’s why I worry less and less about Harrison’s long-term care. He has Isaac for a brother, and such brotherly love has no limits and knows no bounds.
I once read a book by Tom Brokaw titled The Greatest Generation, which (if you’ve never heard about it) details the World War II generation. I will admit that it may very well be the “greatest generation,” but I see another generation emerging that may equal this. It’s a generation of siblings of autistic children who will selflessly take care of their brothers and sisters not out of a sense of duty but rather out of a sense of love and compassion. My 5-year old son will be a part of this, and his words keep repeating in my head, “Of course. He’s my brother, and I love him.”