Tonight, my two youngest kids are off spending the night with their friends.  They were SUPER excited and it was so nice that they got to go off and have fun.  Then I got to thinking about it… Sawyer NEVER gets invited to go anywhere.  Not that he cares, not that he wants to go anywhere, not that he has any friends or cares either way, but I care and it made me sad.  Mostly I don’t dwell on his future or his limitations but sometimes it hits me hard and my avoidance of the subject becomes a full on pity party.

That’s where I am right now.  Want to come?  No?  Then stop reading right now.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Unless there is a miracle of some kind, we will never have an empty nest.  When we retire we will still be full-time caregivers.  When we die he will be alone.  These facts are bleak and they are why I mostly don’t choose to think about it.  I get through this day by day.  Thinking years in advance just serves to freak me out.

My son is in a small, sheltered class at his school.  It is the class for the VERY disabled kids.  Every year we buy him a yearbook which he never looks through or has anyone sign.  I have put them aside for him just in case someday he might want them.  Now, logically, I KNOW he will never want them.  It’s just not going to happen.  But every year I continue to buy him a yearbook just like the other kids just in case he someday does.  Why yes, I AM in denial.  Thanks for noticing.

Anyway,  this year when I looked through the yearbook his picture wasn’t with his class.  I couldn’t believe it.  He’s never been left out before and my mind immediately went to all sorts of crazy conspiracy theory places wondering if it was an actual oversight, or if  he’d been purposely left out for some reason.  Finally, I remembered to mention it to his teacher.  She told me that he wasn’t left out, but instead of putting him on the page with his acutal class, for some reason, his picture was put in his actual grade, along with all of the other middle schoolers.

This has never happened before.

I went home, opened the yearbook to his grade, looked him up and… started to cry.  He took a good school picture this year.  We had it retaken and his teacher made the photographer take his picture something like 72 times (literally) until she got one where he didn’t look stoned or retarded or crazy or manic.  The photographer actually had to delete all the pictures because he filled his camera and keep shooting until he got  a good one.  No one has ever taken the time to do this before and I was soooo appreciative!  For once, Sawyer looks handsome and neurotypical in his  school picture, and seeing his sweet little handsome face in the yearbook  surrounded by all of his peers who I don’t even KNOW even though he’s been going to this school since he was in preschool, was kind of overwhelming.  Yes, technically I know what grade he’s in.  But he’s never been mainstreamed.  His peers are complete strangers to me.  I’m sure those kids looked through their yearbook and went, “Who is THAT?”  Or worse, “Isn’t that that really weird kid from the disabled room?”

Sometimes really unexpected things can hit you hard.  When we first found out Sawyer was disabled, I was really resentful of other boys his age.  Not girls, just boys.  I kept thinking that their mom’s were pregnant at the same time I was and how come they got the “normal” kids?  I wanted one too!  As he grew older, that completely went away.  …Or so I thought.  But seeing him on that yearbook page surrounded by all the “normal” kids his age brought all those feelings to the forefront again.  These are feelings I thought I’d dealt with years ago.  Feelings I thought were done with.  Over.  And now I realize that they aren’t gone, not by a long shot.

Apparently, burying feelings and DEALING with them until you are over them are two very different things.  Looks like I’ll need to spend some more time doing the latter.