Some days are cold and bleak. Outside and inside. It’s a bitter cold that quickly chases me away and back into a place of warmth. I don’t want to feel the cold viciously biting at me. And yet there is still color, light and beauty. I appreciate the beauty I can find in the bleakness.
It’s hard, on days when I’m feeling completely defeated and alone, to see or feel anything but the bitter cold and darkness. I dig deep, trying to find some light and warmth. It’s hard to believe there is any beauty within me on these bleak days when the demons inside me, and even some without, try to feed me only darkness. It’s by a small sliver of hope that I cling on and keep searching, keep digging.
A couple of nights ago, during family scripture study, we were talking about miracles. We spoke about how miracles aren’t always big. Sometimes they are little. And they are all around us. Last night, I witnessed one of those miracles.
My nine-year-old wants to play basketball. His autistic brain makes it difficult. It’s not that people on the autism spectrum can’t do sports, but according to Dr. Sean Healy, “Many individuals with autism have lower fitness skills compared to other people. These skills include balance, body coordination, visual-motor control and other mobility skills.” (https://www.autismspeaks.org/expert-opinion/autism-exercise-benefits) This definitely describes my son. He also very easily gets lost in his own head and has a hard time paying attention to what’s going on around him. I want him to be active and fit, so I’ve tried to encourage him to do swimming or track. I’ve told him how good I think he’d be at those things with how tall he is, with his long legs.
He wants to play basketball.
Last night he had what might be his last game of the season on his rec league. This is the third year he has played, and he’s never scored a point. I’m not sure he’s ever even tried to make a basket during a game before. Last night, while he was sitting out, I talked to him about how important it is to try. I pointed out that there were kids who shot the ball, and even though they didn’t make it, they had at least tried.
“Look,” I said, pointing out a kid on his team who had shot the ball several times, but had never made a basket. “Even though he missed it he keeps trying. And look how happy he is! He’s out there having a ton of fun.”
My son decided he wanted to make a basket. He was determined to make one. I told him he had to try. There were a couple of times, after he went back into the game, that he had a great opportunity, under the basket, to make a shot. But he hesitated and got blocked or had the ball stolen from him. I could tell he was becoming agitated and frustrated that he hadn’t made a basket. It was fourth quarter of what might be his final game of the season. Then a miracle happened.
The other team knocked the ball out of bounds. It was our ball on our side of the court. One of my son’s teammates threw the ball into him. And no one went to block him. No one. In fact, it seemed like no one knew what was going on. Everyone was just standing around as if there were no game happening. My ex and I yelled at our son to shoot the ball. Like usual, he hesitated. I was sure someone from the other team was going to come block him or one of his teammates was going to yell to him, which might only fluster him. But nothing happened. Everyone continued to stand around, doing nothing. My son was right under the basket with a wide-open shot. And finally—finally—he shot the ball. And it went in. He made the basket! He got the point!
It was a great night for my son. I consider what happened a miracle because he needed to get that point. He’s beginning to see that some other kids treat him differently because he is “different”. Kids walk away from him, they won’t play with him, they don’t know how to react to him and his autistic behaviors. It’s always been hard, as a mother, to see this, but it used to be easier because he didn’t notice. He got caught up in his own little world so easily that he didn’t notice the way others were treating him. He finally has noticed, and it’s heartbreaking. I do think his basketball team this year has been really great. It is full of good kids who are friendly and mostly understanding of him. But previous years kids wouldn’t pass him the ball or include him. He can look back now and see that. And it hurts him. So the fact that he actually did something good and made that point was so needed. So needed. I do truly consider it a miracle. I do feel like God was watching out for my son and showing him that He is aware of him and his struggles. He is aware and He loves him.
Walking through that door makes the blue a little lighter. She holds space as I gently spill. We sit, we talk - we water, dig and bury. Nurturing a shoot. Aiding it in light - to find its path through thorns - Malan Wilkinson