Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Rememberance in the Air

I write this on a plane headed to California to work the SKUSA Streets of Lancaster race. A year ago on this flight I wrote with a heavy heart as I wrote about the passing of a former coworker. He passed away a year ago today and being on this flight right now has evoked all the emotions I felt a year ago.

Time is something I struggle with. Unless you have this I don’t know if you can understand, but for myself it is as if everything were now. Events of the past feel as if they are right this second regardless the amount of time that has lapsed. This can be a strength in that my memory of sequences of events is, well, if you were to ask my dad I think he’d call it, “annoying” but it is annoying to me because the old adage of, “time heals all wounds” often doesn’t apply.

As I look out at the horizon and the sun coming up I think back on the past year from this day a year ago. The sun has come up 365 times since then and yet I feel as if it were then. I think back to a year ago and the excitement I had leading up to my amazing national speaking tour. I also think back to all the days I’ve thought of this day a year ago. If I sound like a broken record that’s the way emotions sometimes are for us on the autism spectrum.

Each and every time I hear someone say the misnomer of, “people with Asperger’s have less emotions than others” I want to scream. Yes, sometimes we aren’t the best at expressing emotions but the level of emotions experienced on the inside, at least for myself, is massive.

One of the things I have struggled with this past year is the concept of time and the limit we have. I don’t know if it made the final cut of my book, but I remember writing something along the lines of wanting time to freeze because if it did there would be no change. With change comes the potential of loss and loss is something I don’t handle well.

Since a year ago I’ve had many conversations with my dad saying, “I’m not doing enough… I’m not doing enough…” and I think this goes to the concept of time. Time is limited and I know people don’t like thinking about this because if we did life would not be something to be enjoyed to its fullest but rather would be a countdown instead. I’m sort of in that place right now fearing the next event; whatever that event may be.

The ultimate thing I learned from this past year is that we, or rather I, need to make the most out of each and every day. Last year, in August, Matt had actually sent me a message on Facebook commending me on the response I had been getting at my school presentations. Not knowing how to respond I didn’t. So many times, yes, so many times this year I would have given just about anything to go back in time to simply say, “thank you.” This is something taken for granted on any given day until that commodity we have no control over runs out.
As with last year, writing on a plane, I am a teary-eyed mess and the passenger beside me is looking at me strangely obviously wondering what I could be writing that would get me so emotional. This, though, is the first time that emotions have flowed like this. I’ve tried to bottle it up, pack it away, and hope it would vanish. I’m sure though, as the plane lands in Salt Lake City, and I connect to the wi-fi to upload this, and then I fly to LA, and my focus turns to the race at hand I will be back on my game but before this window of emotion closes I have to say thank you to each and every person who has got me to where I am. Matt was instrumental in building up my confidence as a presenter but there’s been many, many more people whether it is family, current and former coworkers, the teachers I had. It’s hard for myself to express emotions. I never did before I started writing, but to this day it is still difficult. That being said don’t take that as a sign that we are apathetic to it all. As I often end my presentations I stress the fact that we do have emotions, often times to much, but our ability to say thank you, or other emotions, is often not. If you are a parent, a teacher, or anyone who works with those on the autism spectrum please be aware of this. You can go above and beyond the call of duty and do amazing things for us, or change our lives, but when it comes time to say thank you often times the saying won’t be said. Trust me when I say the emotions are there and in my case, after the fact, there’s a high level of regret that I was unable to say thank you.

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