I was asked to write a "legacy letter/ethical will" as part of a photography project I participated in recently. Here is my "letter:"
Through raising a special-needs child, I've come to believe that I am not the teacher; I am the student. My child is here to teach me. He came with a contract for very specific work on this planet, and Job #1 was to teach me patience, and that I was not in charge, so the sooner I let go of any assumptions to the contrary, the better.
They say the difference between religion and spirituality is that religion is for people afraid of hell, and spirituality is for those that have been there. Raising a child with special needs will take you to “hell,” but that is really the whole idea. Some of us don’t learn with a subtle approach, we need to be forced to break from old patterns and beliefs in order that we may ascend if not to “heaven,” then at least to a “place” where there is peace in our soul.
I have come to believe that the “epidemic” of autism is a spiritual matter. With one in 50 boys being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and one in 88 children, the world, as we know it, will cease to exist.
And that’s a good thing.
Only when we have vast numbers of those that think differently, act differently, socialize differently, and process information differently, will we have a world that operates differently.
I once heard an interview with Barbara Bush, after her husband had left the White House. The interviewer asked her if in all her many years of marriage, had she ever considered divorce? She answered, “I never considered divorce, but I often thought of murder.”
Raising a special needs child will put untold stress and strain on a marriage. I have come to believe that those that often think of murder, but do not consider divorce, are the ones that come through on the other side, and quite possibly, eventually enjoy a rich and happy marriage because they’ve been through a war together. I have come to believe there is something to be said for those that just “gut it out,” and are too stubborn to quit.
I have come to believe that there are those that “get it,” and those that don’t, and you will start off with one circle of friends, and end up with another. You will not be sorry. There was nothing wrong with the first set, but they got on one train, and you got on another. You can’t look at this as a loss, you can’t look at this as a contest, you can only look at this as a fact: you had one plan, life handed you another. Their trains took them to their intended destination, and yours took you to one you didn’t want, didn’t plan for, occasionally resent, but are ever-altered for having been sent there.
I have come to believe that your special-needs child will make you do things you don’t want to do, learn things you don’t want to learn, be someone you didn’t think you wanted to be – different. But you are different. That was why you got the child you got. It’s not an accident, it’s not a mistake, it’s a sacred contract written in the stars that you agreed to on a cosmic level, because you were ready to evolve from a soul that was concerned for self, to a soul that was concerned for ALL.
If I had to boil down what I've come to believe most through the journey of raising a special-needs child, is that we are ONE. There is no "us" or "them," we are all threads in the greater tapestry, and all of our thoughts, words and actions affect the WHOLE.
Carrie is a parent and advocate of a child with special needs and even more special gifts. She blogs at http://carrielink.blogspot.com/ where this is pretty much her favorite topic. Carrie’s book, WIL OF GOD: Embracing the Relentless Love of a Special Child, is available in print on Amazon and all e-readers.