The terms special education and developmental disability have the ability to stir the internal pot of grief. At times the advocacy overcomes the grief, but yet the memories and the what-ifs surface at the least predictable times.
Picking up my nearly 17-year-old daughter the other day from school on her last day as a sophomore was one of those unpredictable times.
In bright yellow soft shorts and a spongebob t-shirt, each arm weighed down with multiple tote bags she came running from the building to get into my car. Literally running. Bags with crumpled papers likely from first semester, mismatched gym clothes, and a variety of transition object books. Running.
I watched the people around her and she remained oblivious. Young people talking, hugging, signing yearbooks, laughing. It was as if she was in her own world; isolated from the happenings around, and perfectly happy to do so.
This scene brought my memories back to what I recall as perhaps the first moment of grief. Hearing for the first time “special education” conjured up an initial response of her riding the short bus. Why I grieved so much over that is incredibly silly at this point in our life, but it was where I was at.
Knowing that in elementary school she was eating lunch alone. Isolated from the birthday party invitations. Unable to make it through a girl scout meeting. Spinning on the swings over and over. Hiding under the desk. Remembering the preplanning that went into transitioning to middle school and then high school.
The grief now comes and goes. At times it can be completely in check as I strive to create change and acceptance through advocacy and awareness. At other times it is the monster under the bed that surfaces in the quietness of the night.