Today, is a day that we were never sure would be one that was going to be celebrated here on earth. Elijah turned 6 years old today and it was wonderful..really wonderful. It wasn't flashy or filled with matching plates and cups. But, it was packed with such meaning for all of us. He had a long day at the clinic with appointments and transfusions. The staff at the clinic who we have had the privilege of getting to know well all signed a card and gave him gifts and a balloon. He was happy. It could have been a very stressful day for him...but the staff knew him and they kept it low key...no big loud exclamations, no bursting into song, no cheering and clapping no matter how badly they wanted to celebrate in the usual ways.
Elijah doesn't like clapping or cheering. He doesn't like high fives or hearing people say...yeah.. He doesn't like candles or blowing them out and he doesn't like singing...so as you can imagine, today could have been a very rough day for him. But it wasn't. It was his best birthday yet. He was excited to tell people that he was six. He was able to tell people that he liked presents. He was able to say no to a hug or a high five and have people respect his wishes. They got it..they "got" him...and they showed love to him in the way that he needs it to be shown.
After going to his favorite clinic building that he calls "River Park Pizza" which is really River park Plaza (but he read the last word wrong) and riding the elevator for a long time after his final appointment for the day, he headed home. We just moved back home on Saturday and it has been a whirlwind of activity since then. We moved out on a 90 degree day in July and arrived back home in the first big snowstorm of the year. A lot of adjustment has been happening around here. The kids are all adjusting to listening to two parents instead of one. The parents are adjusting to the new changes that have happened over the past months. And Elijah has transitioned really well...he is so happy to be home.
For his birthday, he directed the festivities. We sang in a whisper to him. He liked that. We lit one candle at a time on his elmo cupcakes and he chose someone else to blow them out. After repeating that 6 times, he was ready for presents. Everyone remained calmed and waited for him to handle his birthday in his own time. He ripped open the wrapping paper on the first gift...and proclaimed, "uh..oh, I broke the present." We all wanted to burst into laughter, but no one did..that would have scared him. He liked his presents and he could tell us which one was his favorite..these are rare and treasured moments.
Inside, we all wanted to cheer and clap..Elijah handled his birthday amazingly well. We all wanted to pick him up and hug him and shout and dance and sing. I just wanted to cry because of the depth of emotion I have experienced watching my sweet son face all that he has this past year...I don't think I have ever been so proud of someone.. This boy is amazing... and he has been given a gift that has changed my life forever...his ability to touch the hearts of so many through his sincerity, his courage and his joy in the midst of pain and fear. My tears would have been of pure joy..because if anyone deserved a celebration, it was Elijah..and even though it was not as we might imagine, it was his celebration just the way he wanted it to be.
Yesterday, when Elijah's feeding was complete and we were able to disconnect him from the tubes that are attached to him 18 hours a day, Mark said to him..."You are free as a bird.." Abstract thinking like this is usually a very difficult concept for kids with autism to grasp. And I am not sure what went through Elijah's mind, but he quickly started out with a smile that turned into bursts of laughter. And when he had a chance to talk, he said, "He has wings..." He was so right...he does have wings...
Elijah, you have been wings here on earth. This year has been all about flight for you...You have taken off and grown in so many ways. You are talking more, sharing your thoughts and feelings with us for the first time. You are climbing in our laps and snuggling and allowing us to hold you and hug you and show you how much we love you. It is clear that you have a sensitive spirit that wants to please and you have shown us how important it is to you to do the right thing. You have been given a fresh start in life... You have been given wings to fly and you have not allowed fear to stop you from spreading those wings and taking flight. It amazes me that in the midst of your physical struggles, that you have grown so much in so many other ways at the same time. God has big plans for you, my sweet and precious Elijah, and I am so honored to watch you live out this life that God has given you. Even though winter has arrived here, you are in the springtime of your life...and I am so thankful and so very, very proud of you. Happy 6th Birthday, my sweetheart...