From My Heart

27 Nov

I wrote this for the Autism Society Philippines shortly after the National Conference. This was sent out as an email digest, one of ASP President Dang Koe’s enduring legacies (she brought the society to the modern ages!). I’ve written a lot of things in the last ten years or so, but this one is special to me.

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When you start a day with happy tears in your eyes, you know it’s bound to be a good day.

The last time I saw Vell Baria, she was but a gangly, petite preteen whose vocal cords could blow away the competition with her high notes and perfect pitch. At the ASP NC, I found out that she was no longer a child but a graceful, young woman whose voice only seemed to grow stronger with time.

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It’s funny how one single moment could affect the rest of your day, and for me, Vell’s song opened a floodgate of emotions — sadness, relief, happiness, gratitude — that reminded me only too well of our family’s journey with autism. When I looked around our table, I did not see a single dry eye. I didn’t feel too ashamed then to grab a tissue and dab my eyes.  

And this happened each time young men and women of various abilities (young people so close to my son’s age, it seemed) performed so enthusiastically on stage. All those who witnessed their heartfelt performances cheered and clapped and hooted with joy, yet at the same time, kept swallowing back their tears. Perhaps they were tears of pride, some tears of happiness, tinged with a little wistfulness, maybe even a little longing. But I could sense that there was no heartbreak, no envy, and certainly no despair. We all rejoiced at how far our children have come.

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I took a down a lot of notes during the lectures that ran one after the other. This, itself, was a breathless ride. To be faced with so many choices was exhilarating and I marveled at the wellspring of information that many parents can now access. Yet today, I have yet to look back at my notes, and maybe this will wait another day. Right now, I focus on the friendships I forged in those two short days, parents and teachers and professionals, all bent on one goal: to help our children with autism.

It’s amazing how one single thing in our life — autism — could unite so many people from so different walks of life. On those two days, it didn’t matter if you were rich, or poor, or married, or separated, or educated, or intelligent; there was only one ingredient necessary: Love.

I met a dedicated teacher from as far away as Cagayan de Oro willing to shell out money to follow Bimal Rai to Singapore for RDI. (Well, many of us wanted to go after Rai, for not entirely selfless reasons. Oops! I let the cat out of the bag! Rai now has groupies in the Philippines! Haha!)

I met a father from Davao who flew in all the way to meet with support group friends he has never met, except online.

I met a teacher from St. Joseph’s College, Teacher Jane, who struck me with her devotion to even the most behaviorally challenged of our children.

I met the very gracious mom of a handsome fourteen-year-old boy, and were these different times, we would have been a little shy to talk to each other, even if our children came from the same school.

I met prolific artist Gabby Atienza and had my son’s picture drawn. His portrait now occupies a special place in our living room.

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And then there was Gio’s proud father (and even prouder husband of ASP’s President Dang), he who stood by his son’s handmade frames and gave us a charming sales pitch, which only underscored his pride and his devotion to his family.

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I met all these people and more. And each one changed my life in immeasurable ways.

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From each I draw strength and courage and optimism to face good times, bad times and all in-between times. I hope they took away something from me too.
 

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3 Responses to “From My Heart”

  1. MegaMom November 27, 2007 at 4:37 pm #

    KittyMama, The way you told this story was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing it, my friend. Am still a little speechless, holding back some emotions. I am grateful that you have decided to share yours. 🙂

  2. leira November 28, 2007 at 4:22 am #

    Hi,, thanks for your blow by blow account on what happened at the NC. parang feeling ko andyan na rin ako.. while it was happening.

  3. Kittymama November 28, 2007 at 8:22 am #

    Megamom, thank you for your kind words. I’m really glad you stopped by.

    And Leirs, God willing, next time, Autism Society of America conference naman ang attend-an natin. Sabay. 🙂

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