I was fully engaged in desperate attack mode on Eric's Autism. I was flailing at any possible shred of hope to fix him. We were making progress, but I felt our window of opportunity was closing...
I have never been a very spiritual person. My wife, a much better Catholic than I am, came to me one day and told me she wanted to bring Eric to a Healing Mass being held at a church in Pennsylvania. The mass was being offered by Monsignor John Essef, a close spiritual adviser and Confessor to Mother Teresa. There was, she explained, considerable anecdotal evidence that Msgr. Essef had performed miracles. I agreed. I was agnostic, but desperation has a way of making you hedge your bets.
Eric behaved himself very well through the mass (with the help of some lollipops, juice boxes, candy and a whole arsenal of favorite toys my wife brought along). All around us were people who had traveled many miles to be blessed by the Monsignor. Each of them was either personally afflicted or caring for a family member who was battling illness or disability.
After the mass a line formed to stand before the Monsignor to be blessed. When we reached the Monsignor he first blessed my daughter (7 or so years old). He whispered to her that she was a wonderful big sister and she had a very special brother. He then blessed my wife and my son. Eric stood patiently as the kind man touched his forehead and whispered a blessing I could not fully hear. It was a powerful moment that brought us all to tears.
I thought we were done. I thanked him and we turned to leave. Then he stopped me and touched my forehead. He blessed me and whispered something to me that I choose to keep private, but it had nothing to do with my son.
If this were a Hollywood script I would now tell you that my son suddenly began speaking in full sentences and stopped stimming. That did not happen. Instead we returned home and continued our struggle.
Over the subsequent years, Eric has continued to make progress. We continue to attack, but as previously mentioned, my desperation and despair are gone. We continue to battle tirelessly with the help of his therapists (we love you guys), doctors, teachers and family, but I have also accepted my son for the wonderful little individual he is.
Now being able to step back and remember that day in Pennsylvania, I find myself wondering if the Monsignor knew something I didn't. Maybe my son wasn't the one who needed to be healed?
Jerry recently began writing about his family's experiences with Autism in his personal blog (Bacon and Juice Boxes: Our Life With Autism). You can follow him on Twitter @jturning and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/baconandjuiceboxes).