Sunday, May 15, 2011
My husband and I watch the same shows. We laugh at the same jokes, we fall asleep at the same moment when the show lulls. It's always been the same, never a discussion, always on the same wave length about our prime time choices until this year's American Idol.
I don't have any strong feeling against Jennifer Lopez and I think Steven Tyler is an amazing artist. I was ready with the remote just like every season. And then I saw this spotlight on a kid named James.
I was amazed by the way my husband and I viewed this spotlight so differently. See, we replayed the spotlight about 6 times, hanging on every word. I looked over to my husband and he was wearing a wide smile. I could see the hope on his face and when James began to sing, the complete joy that my husband felt to see this guy with Autism excelling and being accepted.
I couldn't bare to watch. By the third time we replayed the words high functioning autism, I was crying. And when I heard him sing, I couldn't catch my breath because I was sobbing so hard. I knew his intensity, I see it every day in my children. I knew instantly that I could not see this kid get voted off the show. I knew that mentally, it was going to take a toll on me. The thing was, that I could not stand the idea of people judging him, judging us, if that makes any sense.
I shut my mouth and let my husband have his hope. I sat next to him and watched the show but my mind would focus on something else-more often then not-Angry Birds. It drove my husband nuts but I couldn't find the words to express what this show was doing to me. I felt like I was James' mother. Every note he hit, my body reached for it with him. I would hold my breath through most of his performances. It was unbearable to me.
And then one week, we were very busy and we backlogged about four episodes of American Idol. We did an Idol marathon with the kids sitting watching the show with us. They love the show. They dance and sing with all of the performers, it was a peaceful Saturday. Until we saw James struggle a bit on stage and I lost it.
"Why do you make me watch this show?" I was so angry. "I hate it! I can't do this anymore!" I couldn't speak coherently. I was so upset. What if I had to see James voted off? I could not do this. So my husband and I argued over Idol. I was adamant that I was never watching this show again and he was shocked and flummoxed about my reaction after weeks of non-reaction.
Weeks passed and I never looked at the show again. My husband watched it when I was sleeping or at work. He still looked baffled by my heated emotion to this show but he let it lie.
My worst fears were realized this past week. James was voted off the show. And although, I tried to hide from it, my Facebook page and Autism support groups blazed with the news. I cried. How could America not see how perfect this young man was, how talented?
I came home from a long day at work and my husband said, "I recorded something for you to see." Before I could stop him, he played back the moment when the results were announced. I was paralyzed in my seat. I watched as James watched the recap and sang his swan song. Every note landed like a fist in my stomach.
James gave my husband hope that he needed and his success is a balm on his soul. For me James represents every dream and hope that my body possesses and that type of hope was unbearable for me to actually see.
I know that I have to work through all of the emotions that a diagnosis will continually bring into my life. But sometimes, I'm human and I hide to survive. Some days, I don't want to look at Autism straight in the face. Sometimes, my eye contact is fleeting and I UNDERSTAND my children. I understand the overwhelming emotion of looking at something head-on and I feel like another puzzle piece falls into place for me.
And I'm thankful for my life, for my kids dancing to James and my husband knowing to hold my hand while I looked at this guy that could be my child, succeeding and while, not winning, getting a normal experience like other talented performers. His diagnosis doesn't define him and that is what was so difficult to see because that is what I WANT. I want my kids to be successful and happy in their own right, not just a successful Autistic.
Honey, pass the remote. I'm ready to watch the show again.