It may seem a coincidence that the two most profoundly altering moments of my life have their respective anniversaries within a week of each other. Seven years ago, on a sunny Thursday in the middle of June, my daughter was born a month early. She was only five pounds but she arrived ready to teach those around her; and she hasn’t stopped since. Every year at this time the story of her birth slowly plays over in my mind and I recall it all. It’s easy for me to remember for it is etched into my mind. I will never forget it. It was, and always will be, the defining moment of my life. My biggest triumph.
When Mia was born I immediately learned what life truly was about. Whatever it was that I had been searching for before her arrival, that had lead my life astray, was found in an instant. In one brief moment a life lacking any sort of purpose was full of it. A person who had shut out love was full of it. And one little girl less than an hour old had given all of that to me.
That is what I remember every year on her birthday and during the weeks that follow. I spend the month of June marveling at Mia and what she gave me so abruptly on that sunny day in the middle of June. I think about what she has been giving me ever since.
Those very thoughts were not far from my mind when, on another sunny Thursday in June, Roger and I brought Mia to a Developmental Pediatrician; only two short years after her birth. I had spent the week prior to this appointment thinking about Mia and all she was. I spent the week prior compulsively making lists of questions. Questions we wanted answers to. Questions I had been asking myself for a year and a half prior; since my baby was six months old. Questions I already knew the answer to but didn’t hold the proper credentials to give. Questions whose answers really made no difference.
Mia’s diagnosis was given at the best possible time; in the month of June when I am actively thinking about all of the great things that Mia brings to my life. When Mia was diagnosed I learned in an instance what acceptance was truly all about and having an unaltered sense of Mia’s purpose helped me get through the hurtful reactions after her diagnosis. Having sampled the bitter taste of injustice I quickly realized it was not a flavor I wanted to savor – or anyone else to have to taste. So I decided to embark on a journey of sorts and joined the ranks of other parent and self advocates in the fight for acceptance, tolerance, justice, civil rights, inclusion, and love for all of the differently-abled people in this world, who quite sadly, often times are not awarded these things outright.
I’m not sure what would have happened to my life had I not had Mia. I’m equally unsure what would have happened in my life had Mia not had autism. But I do know that both of these things have helped to shape who I am today. I do know that she has taught me much and given purpose to an otherwise purposeless life. I do know I don’t believe in coincidence.