Battle Scars, Perfection and Autism

My sister wrote something today in her blog that struck me:

missing teeth and feetAs I was packing away my Christmas stuff this year, it dawned on me that the same nutcrackers I have been putting away for years were still broken, and no one was ever going to fix them. As my late husband, Larry, and I celebrated our last Christmas together in 2008,  I mentioned their ‘broken’ state to Larry. I said we should get rid of them and get new ones. He said the nutcrackers were perfect. “Those are battle scars”, he said. I said ‘okay, whatever’. He said they guard us every night during the Christmas season, while we are asleep. They are up all night in battle sometimes even during the day, while we’re out. Of course, this was his sense of humor. He had a way with humor, unlike anyone else I had ever known. The nutcrackers’ broken and missing pieces were ‘battle scars’. Nutcrackers without battle scars are useless and lazy and don’t serve any purpose at all.

What an awakening, as I thought about this yesterday, gathering them up for another year’s slumber until next Christmas. Remembering this story brought a tear to my eye, as I thought about Larry’s own battle scars before he passed away, and our 21 years together. He was rough around the edges, just like those nutcrackers. He had physical battle scars, emotional and psychological ones too. But there was never a day that went by that he didn’t have the same protective demeanor that he attributed to those nutcrackers. Every day, was a day of watching out for his family and myself the very best that he could. It’s not a sword or a fist fight – it’s an attitude – a commitment to ‘be there’ come rain or shine for the people you love. Larry was my guard and protector on Earth while he was here. He was with me and for me every step of the way, and I will never forget that. Through all of his rough edges, deep inside he was a person of pure and perfect love. Sometimes, I think it’s because of his rough edges and battle scars that he grew a deeper sense of love than those that may have never encountered obstacles.

It would take the heart of a soldier to see the significance and purpose of ‘battle scars’ on a Christmas nutcracker.

After reading this story that my sister Susan wrote, I started thinking about my own life and how the ‘imperfections’ we may see in the people we love really aren’t imperfections at all. They are merely remnants of journeys along the way in life. It’s as if someone just painted a giant wall with lots of colors and, as you’re walking down the street you bump into it occasionally. Then, you stand back and notice how many colors are all over you. You weren’t born that way – you acquired them along your path.

This New Year, let’s look at our own lives that way and the children with autism in our lives. They have bumps, bruises and many colors, and rough edges. Aside from those ‘rough’ edges, the love is there nevertheless, with a lifetime of love to come. Be patient. The battle scars, wall colors (or whatever you may call them) may look funny or be bumpy, but just embrace them and love the person inside.

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