Fly Away

June 18, 2012
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He couldn’t speak, but he certainly tried. He always let the other kids know to stay away through screams and gibberish. Bram had a hard time socializing with others, even me. He believed everyone would hurt him. That day he had pushed a boy off the jungle gym, granting himself a ride home early.

Struggling against the straps of his car seat, Bram flailed his arms about. Distraught and tired, he wanted to get home, this wasn’t the first time I’d driven him home. He rarely made it through an entire school day, and even when he did, he’d still cause the teachers problems.
“You know, Bram, you can’t push the other kids, it’s not nice to hurt others.” I said, trying to explain to my son, in hopes that someday maybe he’d reply, just say. “I’m sorry, dad, it’ll never happen again.” But I knew it would never happen. His autism would always have control over his life. Many times I’d tried to cope with it, but the thought that my son would never live the model of a normal life weighed heavy on my shoulders.

At home, Bram roamed the yard, but only under my careful observation. On the outside, Bram’s disabilities were obvious, but occasionally I’d catch glimpses of his true self coming out. I could tell that in his mind he wasn’t different from his peers. He didn’t want any special treatment, he just wanted to be himself. At home, Bram had more freedom, he’d let his mind wander and play. I couldn’t help but smile as he placed a bucket on his head, grabbed a stick, and began to swing it, I tried to put myself in his mind, attempting to visualize the fantasy worlds he would conjure up. Occasionally he would turn to me, a huge smile on his face. I could see he wanted to say something, maybe shout out “I am the brave knight of this land, dad!” But his mouth could never quite make out the words right to say it.

All was well. I watched as Bram ran through the uncut grass, free as a bird. He lost himself in his world of make believe, running faster and faster. I called out to him, but he didn’t stop, I could see it coming but it was too late. Before I could get up to help him, Bram ran straight into the rosebush. His illusion of heroism was instantly destroyed by the thorns. Screams once again. I swooped him into my arms and we rushed inside. His cries pierced my ears as I struggled to clean him up.

“You have to be more careful, Bram, you could have been seriously hurt, you’ve got to pay more attention to the world. Someday you’re going to be out there by yourself and daddy won’t be there to patch up your wounds,” I said, for the first time Bram sat still and listened. The tears finally drying up.

“Here, I’ll get something for you.” I said, running out to the garage, finally returning to see Bram’s huge smile cross his face.

“Here, see these balloons? While they may float now, they’re fragile, if you’re not careful they won’t fly anymore, but keep them safe and they’ll fly for as long as you want them to.”

I handed the balloons over and followed him outside. Bram smiled and ran through the yard, balloons floating not far behind. I watched as Bram jumped in the air, waiting for a gust of wind, waiting for the balloons to lift him. Waiting for his chance to fly away.

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