I’ve been thinking a lot about my childhood and how my actions reflected those of a child with Aspergers. I keep getting pulled back into a time period when I was about ten years of age. I was still rescuing animals then. Not that there was much I could do to help, but to love them.
One day the animal was a bird, near death, whose eyes were cold by morning. Another day a snail that had lost its shell. The one I remember the most is the butterfly. She was a monarch. I found her in the gutter on a rainy-walk home from school. Her wings were tattered, and she was nearly drown. I carried her home, cupped in the safety of my hands. I named her Jolie—for her beauty.
I placed her in a cleaned-out pickle jar and watched her in awe, as she stuck out her black tongue and lapped the sugar-water from a small lid. Her little wings were cast in masking tape. I watched her through the night; ever so often turning on the light and checking on her. I loved her. She survived a full day in the warmth of my affection. When she passed, I buried her in the backyard under a fig tree and gave her a short sermon. This is the little girl I was, so remarkably sweet and hopeful. I wish to go back to her, to her room, to kneel down at her side, and say:
“I love you. I love you so very much. You are so beautiful. So kind. So thoughtful. And I am sorry that you carry such a burden. I know how painful it is to love with all of your heart. I know how painful it is to want to help and to not know how. But you are helping. You are helping more than you know, my precious one. Look at me. Do you see what you have become. You are going to be a mommy someday, with your own family, and you are going to have what you need to take care of them. But precious child your journey into adulthood will be very hard. There will be times you want to give up. So many times. And you will take many years to find your way. But you will. You will. I promise you that. And when you do, so much will make sense. And you will cry, cry so very hard, like you are now with losing your beloved butterfly. But I will be waiting. I will be knowing that you will survive. That you will be strong. That you will love with all of your heart and get that love back ten-fold. You of all people, shall be loved. I will be here waiting on the other side of time, with my arms wide open. And when we meet again, in dream and in prose, I will embrace you, like no other. Thank you. Thank you for being you and going onward. Thank you for being so brave and so very strong. You are my living angel. And I breathe for you.”