It’s never an easy thing to lose family. Being the parent of a special needs child, the people who are (or should be) your greatest support system are the ones you cling to when it all becomes too much. When you are overwhelmed and you need someone to talk to or rely on (besides your spouse, I mean, because they need a break just as much as you do), your family should be there for you.
For me, my parents are those people. When I need somewhere to turn besides my husband (because we talk about Ethan until we’re blue in the face sometimes), my parents are the people I go to. My dad was always there to calm me down when he could see that I was at my breaking point, always the person to hand me a Kleenex when I cried, always the one to make me realize that in the grand scheme of things, I actually have it pretty easy. Yes, my son is autistic, but as difficult as he can be, he is a shining light in a relatively dark corner of the universe. My dad was always there to remind me of that.
So it’s really hard, when I have those days with Ethan where I feel like I’m at my wits’ end and just need someone to talk to, someone to go have a soda or, yes, a drink with, and talk to about things…it’s incredibly difficult for me to realize, all over again, that my dad is not here for me to talk to anymore. He passed away on July 29th.
And I miss him. He was truly, genuinely, an amazing person. An amazing husband, an amazing father, an amazing grandfather, and an amazing friend, to everyone he came across in his life. My dad was without a doubt the most selfless person I have ever met. This expression sounds so cliché, but my dad was one of those people who would literally give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it. If you needed $20 for something, he’d give you $100, “just in case.” If you needed to borrow an egg, he’d give you the whole carton. If you needed a little bit of gas in your car to get from Point A to Point B, he’d fill the tank for you. If you needed help with a problem, he was there for advice, or just to listen. Always ready with a joke, whether you needed a laugh or not.
It’s hard to explain to any child that one of their grandparents has passed away. I don’t know a lot of four-year-olds who understand the concept of death, but it’s even more difficult when your child is autistic and speech delayed. It’s hard for me to drive up to my mom’s house and to hear him say, “We’re going to see Grandma and Papa, Mommy! We’re at Grandma and Papa’s house!” when we pull up to the curb. It’s tough to hear him ask me, periodically, “Where’s Papa, Mommy?”
All I can think of to tell him is, “Papa’s in Heaven, and he’s not hurting anymore. He’s happy and healthy now, and we’ll see him someday soon, when it’s our turn to go Home.”
We miss you, Dad. And we love you more than words can say.