I met a friend for coffee recently. Or maybe I should say I briefly saw a friend at a coffee shop. I tried. I tried to get out of the house and have an adult conversation, with a friend. Christopher had a different idea.
Last weekend I made plans to have coffee and enjoy a fall walk with a friend. I was looking forward to getting out and grabbing a pumpkin spice latte for a treat. I walked into the coffee shop full of smiles pushing him and strolled over to the table they were sitting at. Everything seemed to be going well…until it wasn’t. He started screaming. He started banging his head and kicking his legs. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was so I decided to quick order my coffee and try to settle him down. The woman in front of me was very indecisive and I saw the poor cashier give me apology glances over and over. I’ve learned to tune his meltdowns out but I can’t say the same for the rest of the coffee shop. All eyes were on us.
I was hot and sweating as I waited to order my coffee. He wasn’t letting up. I took his jacket off wondering if he was too hot. He continued to wail and arch his back. I showed him a couple of books only to have him throw them on the floor. After what seemed like an eternity waiting for my pick-me-up I told my girlfriend that we were going to wait outside. I left the shop and walked into a greenhouse next door as my eyes filled with tears. There I was, making the decision to find time to enjoy an outing with a friend and yet I was alone.
We walked past the mums and I had to try to hold it together. This life is a different kind of lonely. It’s isolating. It’s isolating without even trying to be. As we walked around the greenhouse, around and around, I tried to calm him down but I knew we only had one option. We had to leave. I walked to my car and texted my girlfriend. The tears and screaming kept on. He was upset and I didn’t know how to help other than to go home. This was not the first time, and I know it won’t be the last.
I can’t imagine not wanting to be somewhere and unable to move or vocalize your want.
I can’t imagine being hot in my coat and incapable of taking it off or simply asking for help.
I can’t imagine being overstimulated with no way out.
I can’t imagine having a need go unfulfilled because I can’t speak.
Believe me when I tell you that we are working so hard on communication but it is anything but easy. It’s hard. Really really hard.
As I drove away and tears fell on my face while listening to the sobs from the back seat, I couldn’t help but feel for him. If I felt alone how did he feel? I was upset that this is our reality. His reality. He’s in there, he’s so incredibly smart, and he can’t get it out. He can’t show me or tell me…yet. I know there will be a day when all of this is behind us, at least I hope so.
So much of me feels isolated, and in those moments I can only imagine how isolated he feels.