When I first met my stepson many years ago, he made me quite nervous; how could I raise a child that was not my own and was deeply loving to his birth father? A two year old boy with these huge cheeks and a very high pitched squeal signifying both joy and displeasure. And for me he never smiled.
Gabriel was my first experience with autism, a developmental disorder that impairs ones ability to communicate and interact socially. When I realized what it was, I prepared myself for what I thought may be my most difficult and challenging relationship ever….
…but it wasn’t.
You see, I had never accounted for the fact that this child was NOT a statistic. Not a “typical” case. And that he called all of the shots here. It was then that I knew that I had been given a gift and not a burden. That this boy with such love and devotion could learn to accept me as his mother’s new suitor as well as continue his love for his own father made me see that I was the underdeveloped individual and not Gabriel. He was fully aware of who and what we all were, and he loved us inspite of our differences or quarrels.
Gabriel is, without a doubt, the reason I married his mother and brought two more children into the world. The world may see you differently than I do, “Swizzle”, but you have given me the courage to face that world at your side.
I thank you for your strength, your courage and your honesty on this your 17th birthday, my son.
Never have I loved anyone more than you—but of course you’ve known that all along.
Happy Birthday, Gabriel!!!