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Monday, March 15, 2010

Loss and Found: Dealing with Heartbreak



Say hello to "Sweetie". This is not the actual stuffed pet we have, but it is a picture of the one that Nathan has at home. Sweetie has been anthropomorphized into a living, breathing, meowing and licking pet. She spends a good deal of time with Nate. She eats breakfast with him, helps out with homework, spends time with "Mom", and will go with Nathan to school by hanging out in his backpack. She's a big part of our family. 
One day, we come to realize that Sweetie was missing. Like most times when something doesn't go Nathan's way, he's over dramatic and has huge arm gestures and lots of heavy breathing. (Gee, wonder where that came from? LOL!) I took this in stride. We've dealt with this before. We temporarily lost his DS case with a few games in it to find it a few weeks later in the car. So, I figured, she's got to be around. She can't be far.

We checked at the Y afterschool program and there is no Sweetie. I think, "No big deal." Right? Au contraire, mon ami. Nathan had a full on emo typhoon when he heard Sweetie might be missing. His eyes filled with gigantic pools of tears which stained his face when they fell down his cheeks. His breathing was on the verge of hyperventilation. He was inconsolable.  This was no fakin' bacon. He was heartbroken. Good old fashioned heartbreak. And it happened when he was 7.  

I had hoped that he wouldn't experience it until he was at least a teenager, all braced up, filled to the brim with confusing hormones and head full of songs of band names I have never heard of. Yet here he was, my little boy, sad to the core, with the potential loss of Sweetie. I held him in my arms as he clung to me tight. He wasn't even talking, he was sobbing. He made a LOST sign (which I have since misplaced), with a handmade drawing of his beloved pet, ready to place it around the classroom. It cracked my heart in two. I had no idea what was going to happen or what I would do if I didn't find Sweetie. She had to be found. 
Someone in the program had said that he thought Nathan may had left Sweetie in the gym. We went immediately to investigate. As we walked down the corridor, I thought I spied a little round orange blob in a locker. I went closer and lo and behold, there she was. Abandoned by herself in a dark locker. I grabbed her and gave her to Nathan. He started crying and held her to his chest. We returned to the classroom, triumphant in her rescue. All of his friends gathered around him and patted him on the shoulder, letting him know how thankful they were that Sweetie had been found. I was delighted that we had found her, too.

 I don't know what kind of maternal juju I could have conjured up to help that hurt. And I'm not sure that it would have worked. I think we feel those types of pains and they sear into our hearts. We need to experience it at least once in our lives. It is unbearable and devastating. All we can do as parents is provide a safe place to heal. Time is the only true healer and you cannot press the fast forward button with it. I am glad Nathan has escaped a more permanent heartache for now. I am sure as he ages and the tweenager emerges, there will be plenty of moments like these with triple the drama with extra cheese. I know his heart will break a million times and then another million times. For now, I will take him with only a slight crack in it. 

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2 comments:

  1. Let them try to tell us again how persons with autism cannot love. Bullocks to them, we know better. They not only love they sometimes love too much.

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  2. @Elise: I have seen kids all over the spectrum show and feel love. People don't understand that just because they don't express themselves in the same way that we do, that it's not love. It's love, pure and simple. And it's darn beautiful.

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