We were on our way to visit my brother’s family when the rain started to pour. I haven’t visited their home for years and decided the rain wasn’t going to keep me from dropping by on the holidays. It was getting heavy, and we heard the news of a storm coming. I wavered a little, supposed I should defer my plans and go the next day. But I started to feel guilty for not even keeping in touch with my family as much as I ought to over the years.
Peering through the windows of Dunkin Donuts that have become dense in the cool weather, I started to evaluate lost time. Mark talks about his family often, about how he loves to hang out with his brother and his kids. He always says it’s great to be able to spend time with people who are literally a reflection of your person-hood. No matter the differences, physically, or of opinion, you’ll still see yourself somehow in each and every one of them.
I didn’t know exactly what to expect the moment we stepped inside their home. I’ve heard few stories about kids with Autism and, lacking sufficient knowledge on the disorder (ASD), I thought their eldest son, Raphael would reject my presence the very moment he sees me.
He doesn’t look directly at anyone, nor did he say a clear word at me the whole time we were there. I think he mumbles and makes grunting sounds regularly, but I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant. Mark says that’s usually how kids with ASDs are misunderstood in public places, and many get bullied in school for it. Most of their peers and teachers may think they’re naughty or a nuisance, when they only do not know how to respond at the same wavelength, nor socialize properly.
I do not like to refer to it (Autism) as a disorder. I look at Raphael and I see a child who’s different, yet aren’t we all from each other? I look at him, and I somehow see myself in him just as Mark said he does with his own family in one way or other.
Like our dear Raphael- whose skin is white as milk, whose brown hair flows smoothly over his forehead, who likes to flap his hands on the table and against the wall, but does so with the purest of intentions- I long for my family’s attention too. I love to be loved, and that’s how we all learn to love ourselves. I like it when people try to understand me when I fail at comprehending my emotions. At times when I prefer to be alone and not talk, just as when our Raphael does not utter a word, I wish for people to sympathize with what I am going through no matter how illogical that may sound.
I don’t slam our table or hit a wall, but if I ever do something uncharacteristic I am happy to know I have someone who’d hold my hand and not highlight on my personal oddities. How we love to be accepted for who we are.
Love is beyond comprehension. We just love without being able to pinpoint exactly why, like a malaise. It’s illogical, encompassing, a disorder. I guess we’re not much different from Raphael.