Monday, August 5, 2013


As I finished reading "Love Anthony" by Lisa Genova, my mind is a whirlwind; and my emotions are ripe.  I am feeling joy, understanding, acceptance, sadness and some validation.  This is a story about a boy named Anthony who has autism.  Anthony is a nonverbal boy who has died leaving his parents...mainly his mother....devastated, grief stricken and searching for answers.  As I read it, I felt completely overwhelmed by so many of Anthony's descriptions of his was like looking into my own son's brain.  So many things that he does made more sense.  Of course I have no idea if Cal's brain sends him the same signals as Anthony's, but nonetheless it made so much sense of things that normally don't.  The overall feel of the book for most may be sadness but for me it was relief....somebody understands what my son provides for our family aka "his purpose".  It's easy to explain what Cal has taught me, but I don't think it's always easy for people to understand.  It can often sound very simplistic, but in reality it's anything but. One of the subjects the book embraces is how parents deal with having a child with autism.  I can honestly say that I don't ever remember being angry about Cal's diagnosis.  I have felt extreme sadness, overwhelming guilt, fear and worry; but I have learned to love and appreciate the boy...not the diagnosis.  There tends to be much controversy over how you "label" a child with autism..."autistic boy" or "boy with autism".  One seems to focus more on the boy and one seems to focus more on the autism.  I use to think that autism didn't define my son, but if I'm going to be does.  It defines everything about him...the same things that have made me sad, fearful, guilty and worry have also made me happy, joyful, grateful and full of love.  My girls, my husband and I all accept Cal and love Cal for who he is and what defines him; and we have never felt angry about who he is.  There are many times when I have been overcome with sadness when I have been faced with Cal's reaction and a "typical" child's reaction to something.  Of course I would love for Cal to have typical and age appropriate interests, and I pray that his inner struggle doesn't eat away at his being.  But overall I think Cal, just like Anthony, is happy just being who he is. He loves what he loves, and why should we try to change that....even if it is something not typical of a 14 year old boy?  I think "his purpose" is to show us how to love unconditionally but also how to accept love unconditionally, how to appreciate the things we would typically take for granted and be so grateful, how to handle struggles and challenges and help someone other than ourselves, how to co-exist with someone who is not just like us, how to be brave and learn to cope when things don't go the way we think they should.  Cal's "purpose", just like Anthony's, is to be; and for us to learn from him not to change him!  Having Cal in the mix of four "typical" girls has taught our whole family so much about acceptance, love and connection.  The last thing that Anthony "says" in the book to his mother is this:
"Take what you've learned and love someone again.  Find someone to love and love without condition.  That is why we're all here.  Love, Anthony"

In the author's notes, Lisa Genova writes the following:
"After talking with parents, physicians and therapists and reading as much as I could about autism for the past two years, here's what I've come to believe:
The spectrum is long and wide, and we're all on it.  Once you believe this, it becomes easy to see how we're all connected."

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