On behalf of the Placement Committee, I would like to offer a tour at [a special needs group home] to Joey Fountain.
I like to write but all of the descriptions of my reaction to this message get trite. You know, my jaw hit the floor, my eyes popped out of my head kind of stuff.
Joey, our son with autism, is 23 now. We’ve hoped for and dreaded this opportunity for years. I can’t blog a whole lot on it at the moment because our thoughts and emotions are bouncing off the walls (man, this is getting cheesier by the keyboard stroke).
[Let me throw in one practical suggestion. If you are a Google user, Google Docs is a great resource. My wife started a document with our growing list of questions and stuff to get done as we approach the transition meetings and the move itself. It auto-saves, so you can’t lose stuff by closing it in an emotional haze. You can use email to invite in others (you know, your spouse and other care giving ally types), so they can open it on their screen and add to it as well.
If you are awake all night stewing about the issue (as are we), you can just add to the document and your allies will be able to see it when they open the document later. No need to make copies and then more copies as you revise – you can all be online editing together in real time.]
In Raising a Child with Autism, I shared a lovely little vignette about Melissa raising gardenias and then wrote,
Giving away gardenias hardly compares to the “giveaway” in our future. Joey is on a waiting list to move into a group residence. It is uncomfortable to think about looking into his bedroom, just down the hall from ours, and seeing an empty space. Like Melissa’s gardenias, he’s grown in beautiful ways. And the time is coming to let him go.
That was composed in reflective calm, when the “waiting list” was just a vague background reality, something that wouldn’t really mean anything until… until a couple of weeks ago when I opened my email and there it was, specific, real and hulking in the foreground of our lives.
I’m sure Melissa and I will share more here as we walk through this together. Your prayers and encouragement mean a great deal.
For now, here’s a sweet picture of Joey, taken one 4th of July in Sioux Falls. We know holidays can be a challenge for caregivers – here’s hoping that your family “fireworks” stay far off in the sky.