Friday, June 24, 2011

Love & Admiration

"To love is to admire with the heart; to admire is to love with the mind”
--Theophile Gautier

The above two words came to mind as I wrote a character letter for my cousin, Tana. Tana’s little guy Jared, was recently diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, this after countless heart wrenching tests and misdiagnosis. After a couple recent scares where Jared wandered from home (a common custom in children with autism), she started looking into getting a specially trained autism service dog, hence the character letter.

As I sat down to write, I thought of the countless wonderful things I could say about my cousin, and realized the above two words capture my sentiments exactly. I love her because she’s my cousin, and we share so many memories together—both good and bad. I love her for the amazing woman she became, which makes me feel old, because I used to babysit the pipsqueak when I was a teen. I love her for the fact that she loved my mom, about as much as I love hers. I love her for every time she was there to lift my spirits when I was down while mom was sick.

I admire the fact that even though she works from home helping to run their family business, she still makes time to be the room mom for Jared’s class, and to help Maya, her daughter, with any number of school activities. I admire the fact that she’s always cognizant of Maya’s feeling, and takes steps to insure she never feels gypped by the demands made by her brother. I admire her strength, perseverance, and resiliency. I admire what an incredible mother she’s been to her children, because while loving Jared is easy, you only have to know him for a few minutes before he’s won your heart, parenting him is way tougher. I admire that she’s been Jared’s fiercest advocate, fighting tooth and nail for every speech therapist or special services he needed.

I know these last two wandering scares have taken their toll, and sometimes it all seems like too much, but I know at the end of the day, whether it be today, tomorrow or 15 years from now, my 'cuz will always be the rock, the fail-safe mechanism which guarantees a safe and wonderful life for her children. So 'cuz, when you read this post, I know you’re one of my few readers, add one more word to the above--proud--which is what I am to be your cousin and to be your friend.