Oh. Where to start about my beautiful boy?
He was perfect…sorta. He was exactly who he was supposed to be, which made him perfect to me.
He was born big: 8lbs 14oz. I had to have an emergency c-section during a two day delivery because his head circumference was more than 10 cm. He was born beautifully plump and happy.
I remember that he was not a demanding baby in his entire first year. I had a demanding daughter who was used to having my undivided attention so I had to try and split time more evenly among the two, but he never complained. He would be in his swing, and I would glance over at him, and often he would be watching me intently and smiling. There was one time when we had a bear rummaging around the garbage can (it was the first time I had seen a bear in real life), and I hurriedly put him in the swing so that I could grab my camera and take pictures of this real life bear. In my hurriedness, I forgot to close the lap table. I took pictures for about 15 minutes before I turned to see that Henry had slid to the floor. He didn’t cry, or complain, or even tell me he had slid to the floor…That is the kind of boy Henry was. While many teachers may not agree with me, I know that he didn’t complain about many of the things that might have bothered him.
There were times when my mind was in the moment and I thought he would complain about something I was changing in his schedule, but he didn’t. And it shocked me. (He had autism. Changing anything in the environment is usually a trigger which sets off a bomb.)
Henry was fiercely loyal. He found a friend in junior kindergarten that he connected with, and for the rest of Henry’s life, Aiden was his best friend. There were times when Aiden wanted to play with different friends, and Henry would be dumbfounded. Henry just couldn’t understand why Aiden would need anyone else now that he had Henry! In his last year (grade 4), Henry was learning how to ‘share’ Aiden. Henry was struggling to do so, but in the process he made other friends. What I loved about Henry was that he didn’t discriminate between people’s qualities. If Aiden wasn’t available to play, Henry would play with anyone. He wouldn’t care if the other person was shy or loud, Henry would come up to them and just start talking and playing. If you weren’t quick enough in the conversation, Henry would just keep talking.
I remember we would be in the car, driving an hour to get to the nearest city, and Henry would talk. And talk and talk and talk and talk and talk…and just keep talking. I always tried hard to listen when my kids were talking to me, but Henry said so many things that I just couldn’t keep listening. I would tell him: “Henry. I love you and love that you are telling me all these things, but I just can’t listen anymore.” He would say “okay mom” and stop talking for about 10 seconds. Then he would start talking again, knowing I wasn’t listening. (This is very true of kids with ADHD. My pediatrician told me that if their bodies aren’t moving, their mouths are: As is the case in the car, when you are tied in by a seatbelt.)
Henry loved passionately but selectively. When he was interested in something, he was REALLY REALLY interested. When he was younger, he really liked watching cars move back and forth. I remember him sitting on the stairs, rolling a single car 2 inches forward and 2 inches backward for what seemed like hours. After that, he loved dinosaurs. In grade 1, he could read with perfect accuracy, the names of each dinosaur. He could recall them and differentiate between two that looked exactly the same to me. After that, it was the ocean. But not just the ocean. It was only ‘the deep’ zone in the ocean that he was interested in.
During Christmas break in 2018, he asked if we could visit the aquarium in Toronto. We were going to be in the vicinity visiting my relatives, so I said “sure. Why not?!” I am so glad that we went. It was so fascinating and cool. I learned so many things about the ocean animals that I wouldn’t have been able to experience elsewhere. They had stations in the aquarium for kids to ask questions and touch bones. We walked up to the station, and the guide asked them if they knew what bones were in front of us. Henry did. He named the scientific name for the animal bones. The guide looked at me, shocked. I told him that Henry has autism and he was really, really interested in the ocean. The guide continued talking about the bones and talking about other animal species he had in front of him. Henry knew what they were before the guide even told us. He started listing facts about the ocean animals that the bones corresponded with. I smiled in that moment and I still remember it fondly today.
To get to the aquarium, we had to walk past the CN tower. Henry was so terrified of heights. Even when he was a toddler, he clung on to me when I rough housed with him and flipped him upside down. He would immediately grasp, with nails extended, into my skin. He was that afraid of heights and being dropped. When we walked past the CN tower, he shielded his eyes from the sky above, and looked only forward to the aquarium. I asked him what he was doing, and he said he couldn’t look at the tower, because it was too high and made him afraid. I laughed to myself because he wasn’t even in the CN tower and he couldn’t handle the height of it. I remember when we were in ORNG airplane, and Henry knew we were going to fly over Toronto. He asked if we were going to fly over the CN tower. I thought I knew his train of thought and hesitantly said yes. He said “great! I want to see the lights.” I was so confused. I think it was because he would be looking down with his feet on the floor that he was okay with it, but I can never know for certain because 2 minutes after take-off, he fell asleep. I thought about waking him up when we were flying over Toronto, but I decided not to because it was after midnight.
I was so lucky to be his mom. I am so lucky that God gave me such a precious gift. I am so thankful that I got to know him as well as I did, in the short time we had together. I have all these memories to think about and reminisce. Even though the days are long that we aren’t together, I know to keep my eye on the prize at the end of this life, when we will be joined together once again.