The Grande Finale

October 23, 2011

It's Sunday morning -- E & I are seated on a plane to Las Vegas, Nevada. This trip is for E & I to attend Ernie Els Grande Els for Autism event. at the end of September our team had $11,700 raised for the Center of Excellence benefiting families like ours, with children on the spectrum. Even though it's only been just over 2 months-- the event seems a long time ago. Time is never stagnant these days. I'm excited to be going with E. alone to share in this monumental event together. 

It has been 5 years since we knew Autism was in our home, altering our lives & at the time stealing away the soul of our baby boy. Now when I think back to then, the wound is still there, though buried beneath volumes of time, prayer, tactics, emotion, etc. There is no other torture great than watching your child fade away into a distant self-exclusive world. Especially when he was such an affectionate, alert, fun & vibrant little guy up until then. I knew in my heart at that time, our beauty Bella had also been transforming, yet her descent into Autism's grip was not as defined as S-bear's. Physicians had convinced me it was another dimension to her intellectual challenges of Down syndrome, yet deep inside my Momma's intuition knew better... discovery was yet to be found.

In general at that time, I remember feeling so unbelievably busy with Bella, whom then was a 3 year old with a multitude of therapies, our twin 1 year olds, and our baby SJo whom was nested securely in my womb. It truly was a blur keeping up then & dealing with the onset of new and greater challenges. Though today is every bit of busy as then, it is only different busyness. I have to consciously reflect upon our family today to really comprehend it as a whole, with all the multifaceted intricacies involved. The medical needs and supports are still profound, yet the children are healing more often than not (sometimes in inches, sometimes in yards). Finding Dr. MKG was a divine intervention that has changed our course of supporting our unique little tribe; for which we will ALWAYS sing praises. We LOVE Dr. Gs (plural- as my son calls him).

In our journey I have been trained to appreciate where we are-- simply by knowing where we've come from (rather, where the children have traveled from on this journey). Even in each of their uniqueness with REAL challenges-- they are more magnificent more than I ever could have imagined in becoming a parent, furthermore parenting those with special needs. The daily minutia takes the lion-share of my attention, yet there is a ever evident trickling stream of God's light that shines through in moments among the everyday. The connections I have with these little feisty beauties-- is the true GIFT I will never tire of. I do get tired after the big waves & even in endurance of this marathon, yet my babies give me the adrenaline, the will, the drive to never stop.

Bella, Roo, S-Bear, & SJo are making PROGRESS and come out winners each day for just enduring and processing all the daily sights, sounds, feelings, et all-- which the neurotypical population takes for granted. Autism in some ways is a silent disease, because on the outside-- they appear fine when not completely in meltdown, but I know they endure so much and that is why they are the CHAMPIONS, not me or any of us around them. THEY ARE THE TEACHERS, if only we will listen.

Their progress is wonderful, a precious treasure, even great for some of them-- but, I savor the connected-ness I have with each. I will never ever take our connection for granted, because their were times for each of them, when they were aloof, completely isolated from this world, indifferent to my presence, or even preferred solace. Thank you God, for equipping me with the resources and tenacity to build bridges, even if these bridges are always changing. Thank you for sending us the people whom have helped build these bridges with enthusiasm, acceptance, joy & celebration. We are blessed. 

A connection may be a twinkling beaming smile from SJo, a moment of discovery and comprehension with Roo, a genuine pure affection from my boy wanting Koala cuddles, or just the awe I have in soaking up the innocence and light within Bella's beauty-- her star-laced eyes, soft freckles, amongst her vibrant diva-ness. GIFTS are abundant, where we care to see them.

October 27th, 2011

The Grande Finale event far surpassed anything I had imagined. Speaking with the parents and loved ones to those on this journey was so commanding because they all radiated proactive in a positive light. It was refreshing to see all these families  together in one place *doing* & not just off to the side in Autism’s trample. Yes, this journey is challenging, yet being surrounded by people knowing WE CAN & DOING something about it was powerful. Meeting Ernie and Liezl Els was amazing; they both are so approachable, loving & open. I've never had the feeling of the simple common bond of another mother championing for her child, as I did while speaking with Liezl, in comparison with other high profile parents we've met. Ernie is as lovely as his persona shows on the big-screen; he is a gentle (and handsome) giant, with a fabulous sense of humor and genuineness. A lovely and inspiring couple, the Els. Of course the event itself was INCREDIBLE & first class-- way outside our normal reality, though we are grateful for the experiences & generosity and work the Els for Autism staff and leadership put towards it. All I can say is W.O.W.!!

It was so exciting to have this whole experience with my partner E. I'm proud of him in choosing this endeavor and leading us in our first ever Autism Awareness family event. With all his responsibilities he doesn't often have the time alone to lead, though he is a natural. We are so blessed to have such great family support (LOVE YOU ALL) along the way as well, standing alongside E. throughout this process, meant so much to both of us in our "coming out" into the Autism community. We know, believe, & continue to pray for guidance in our purpose and how we are to put to use the gifts we each have in leading and making a difference, not only for our own family-- but the astronomical numbers of families on a similar journey.

To all the Els for Autism families-- see you next year! We're ready to rock again in Illinois, Wisconsin & Minnesota. => And, Blessings to EVERYONE WHOM supported Team Schoonveld!!!