The rear view mirror. 

“The past is a great place to visit but never to stay.” This was the line my father fed to me as he put his hand on my shoulder as he left New Hampshire after 33 years.  I took it in, tried to digest it and watched him get into his car.  He went his way, and I went mine.  Any script that I had in mind combusted.

Like the demise of my parents marriage, the diagnosis of Autism hit me to my core.  I knew that I would have to speak to my mom and dad about Sawyer’s diagnosis before I was able to even consider speaking to anyone about it.  

I had zero fear telling my mom.  She had always been the parent I’d confide in.  With that being said, the few hours after visiting with Dr. Pinto, knowing that I would be able to talk with my mom brought me some comfort in a time in which I felt little.

Petrified would best describe my thoughts on reaching out to my dad.  As supportive as he is, he flourished on information to understand.  I wasn’t in the emotional state to explain any information and he would  be awaiting my call. I did the only thing I could do to get through the conversation. I got in my Jeep and just drove.

I didn’t go far.  Approximately 3 miles.  For the first time in 8 years, I returned to my childhood residence.  I felt it was fitting to dig into my past as a lifeline to guide me through my present.

14 Dodier court was built by my father.  I remember at age 10 when he brought the blue prints home.  I remember the foundation being poured.  I also remember closing the garage door the day after he left.  It was the day I finally felt like an adult. 

As I drove up the driveway, it was like I was an intruder.  Like I didn’t belong.  8 years later, I was out of place.  The trees were longer, the leaves covered all the grass and the bricks had darkened.  This wasn’t home.  All the memories were just that.  So I turned around.  I let my past reside in my rear view mirror.  There would be no lifeline, the most difficult phone call I would have to make would be outside of my comfort zone.  I had zero choice because I didn’t have a comfort zone anymore.

Empty.

The ride home from Dr. Pinto’s office was met with tears and silence.  It may have been early in the morning but it felt like it should be time for bed.  All I could feel was my tight grip around my steering wheel as my wife, Kellie had tears falling down her beautiful eyes. The eyes that comforted me so many times during the course of our marriage.

Sawyer was bundled up in his orange coat.  He looked out his window while chomping on his chocolate covered raisins.  The day was no different to him as the announcement of Autism couldn’t interfere with his mission to snack.  Unbeknownst to him, his parents had no words to share, no idea of comfort, and no idea what would be next.

We got home to an empty house.  Our two older children were at school.  Evelyn, age 7 and Cobe, age 5 were living their lives in normalcy.  They knew of special needs but like us, never lived in it.  We had approximately 4 and a half hours to appear to be fine before they got home.  The clock was ticking and after years waiting to hear Autisum, once it arrived on our doorstep, we had short time to process it within our home.

All I could do was sit on my red couch.  The red couch that I would sink in since 2004.  The couch that I first held Evelyn in my arms when we brought all 5lbs of her home for the first time.  The same couch that my Dad came to tell me that he and my mother would be divorcing after over 30 years of marriage.  The same couch that I attempted to correct reading assessments during my first year of teaching 4th grade.

This moment was different.  There was no place to hide.  All 3,000 square feet of our home woudn’t be enough.  All I could do is feel my heartrate accelarte to a place it never has been before.  Our lives were going to change and I had no answers because I didn’t even know the questions that I even should be asking,   All my moments that I used humor to offset a serious moment had vanished.  I didn’t know what to do.  I was empty.