Ryan was meeting a girl at a coffee shop. They had been communicating online and this was the first time they were to meet in person. We arrived at the coffee shop a few minutes early. Ryan wanted to get inside to get his chair settled under the table before she arrived. I followed him as he rolled through the door and up to the table. Once settled, he looked up at me and said, “You can go now mom.” How was I supposed to just leave him sit there, alone? As a mom and as his full-time care-giver it is my job to make sure he is safe and taken care of. I didn’t know anything about this girl, what if she doesn’t show up? To me it was almost as scary to wonder, what if she does?
I hesitated for a moment making sure he was okay then walked toward the door. I stopped when I got to the door to glance back at him. I met his gaze for a split second before he looked away. Fighting the knot forming in my stomach, I walked out of the coffee shop and got into the van.
I sat there for a minute before I pulled out of the parking lot. Knowing I needed to give him some space, after all he is an adult.
I drove around the block and ended up parking across the street, a respectable distance yet close proximity to the coffee shop. I turned off the van and sat in silence feeling the heaviness of sadness closing in on me. Ryan looked so vulnerable sitting in his wheelchair alone at the table. I knew he was taking a risk, a risk of being hurt again. But he was brave enough to take that chance, in hopes of meeting someone who might want to spend some time with him.
My sadness quickly turned to anger. Anger at this disease that has taken so much from him. Angry that my adult son had to have me close by, just in case. Nothing about this is normal. I told God, “I am NOT okay with this!” The anger soon dissipated, and I was left with old familiar grief. Why am I not surprised? Grief is so much a part of your life when you have a child with special needs. It comes and goes. Sometimes sticking around for weeks even months. Other times it is just a passing thought that goes as quickly as it comes.
While I can work hard to meet his daily physical needs, I cannot protect his heart.
As I drove home I prayed silently to the Lord. I asked that he protect Ryan’s heart and that he would please bring a true friend into his life. I prayed that he would also give me wisdom and guidance in how to navigate this phase of life. Being a parent of a adult child with disabilities is hard.