My law school roommate lives an hour or two away. As the crow flies, her home is probably 40 miles or so from mine, but New York City lies between us, with all the convoluted traffic conjuring the metropolis requires. She and I meet occasionally for lunch, in Manhattan, but it’s rare that we bring our families together.
This Saturday she and her husband came over with their three kids, a girl about Martin’s age and two older boys. We barbecued and swam. The kids played. They stayed about five hours.
That evening, I received this email from my erstwhile roommate:
It has been a few years since I last saw Martin (or should I still call him Tin Tin?), so I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if he would still be the little boy I remember from a few years back or if he would be completely different. Well, he is still the cute and sweet little boy I remember but he has also grown into a wonderful young man, so friendly, courteous, and fun! If I did not know from your blog posts that he has struggled with language and communication, I would not have guessed it. Martin was such a gracious host to my kids (who are not the most friendly outgoing type) and was actively engaging them. (He was asking Nathaniel if he preferred to be called “Nathaniel” or “Nate.” He was also calling to Mieko to come swim.) He was so expressive and easy-going and super nice to be around!
I know that today was just one day in his life and there must be other days when things are not so great. I can’t help but to think of all those sleepless nights, all the cooking and food shopping, traveling to doctors and therapists, and the worries and heartaches you endured. But I think you have soooo much to be proud of!!! Your unwavering faith in your child and your strength to guide him, even in the face of uncertainty, have made a world of difference.
Congratulations on achieving an important milestone! I am sure that the next chapter in his life will be an exciting and rewarding experience with new friends and new achievements.
The “important milestone” to which she refers is Martin’s upcoming switch from self-contained special education to general education.
I’m grateful and fortunate to report that I often receive compliments about Martin. This wasn’t even the first very cool email I’ve received from my law-school roommate.
The email quoted above, however, is different, and blog-worthy. In it, a parent of typically developing kids recognizes not only Martin’s growth but also the struggle it has taken to achieve that growth. This was so meaningful to me. Biomed parents know what happens behind the scenes. Biomed parents understand why I had to give up my former career, and they are sure I’ve cleaned poop smears, endured consecutive days without sleep, and snuck into bathrooms to cry. Parents of neurotypical kids, on the other hand, no matter how supportive, tend to overlook what autism recovery actually entails.
Before our guests left yesterday, my former roommate also said that I looked healthy. She said I seemed less exhausted and less burdened than I have since Martin was diagnosed.
When I asked later whether I could reproduce her email here, with the identifying information changed, she replied, “Sure, go ahead and use it on your blog. And you can remove any identifying information such as how beautiful and charming I am.”
Nice try. I will spite her by reporting to my entire (vast, vast) readership that my law-school roommate is beautiful and charming.
Which I suspect you already guessed.
Martin enjoying homemade ice cream on our back deck, with the children of my law-school roommate.