Sunday, March 15, 2009

Two Kats Are Better Than One.

I met my friend Kat just over a year ago. She introduced herself to me through a letter she left with one of Max's daycare teachers. The letter read:

16 January 2008

Dear Max's Mom

Please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Kathryn and I am Lillie's Mom. Lillie is an intermediate at the daycare. Lillie was born with an extremely rare neurocutaneous disease called Hypomelanosis of Ito. When Lillie first arrived in infant care at the daycare she was 7-months old and barely weighed 9-pounds. Lillie was paralyzed on her right side.

Through love and support of the daycare teachers, ErinOakKids and our own private therapists Lillie has made tremendous progress.

Lillie will be 3-years old in March. Over the last few years our family has faced many challenges and struggles in finding support and care for Lillie. I had the pleasure of meeting Max this morning when I dropped off my Lillie and Christopher.

Max is a delightful little boy with beautiful blue eyes.

If there is anything I can do to assist you and Max please do not hesitate to call me anytime day or night.

With kindest regards

Kathryn S.
Home phone/Work phone

What the letter didn't say, was that she met Max for the first time when she witnessed him throwing himself onto the ground when his class came outside to play. That he was wearing a helmet to protect his head. That she offered to help the teachers get him back inside when he refused to walk and had to be carried. That she held him close and stroked his hair to soothe him.

We were still fumbling blindly through the maze of clinics, consultants, therapists and wait lists. Doing our best, but feeling completely inadequate to deal with Max's challenges and struggling to understand what was wrong with our little boy. Kathryn saw Max, and somehow knew that whoever this little boy belonged to, they needed help.

I still carry her letter in my purse with me (it's a bit tattered these days). When I am feeling sad or overwhelmed, I pull it out and read it, reminding myself that I am not alone. Kat and I have become good friends. She is incredibly smart and funny, has a heart that has room to spare, and has the capacity to listen to other people's problems (even the really ugly stuff), when her own problems are often much bigger. Also, she refuses to drink Canadian wine, and would drink only French wine if she had her way. I find this incredibly charming and it makes me like her even more.

While I would never ask to have a child with special needs, and wouldn't wish it on anyone (well, perhaps it would be okay if a few MPPs had Autistic children - then they wouldn't be such condescending jackasses regarding the wait lists for IBI funding), I likely would never have met Kat if it weren't for Max's diagnosis of Autism. We may have passed each other in the cloak room at the kids' daycare, waved politely in the parking lot as we strapped our kids into their car seats, but there would have been no reason for Kat to reach out to me had it not been for Max, and his helmet.

I am lucky to have met Kat, and to have her in my life. I hope that one day, we will be able to sit, drinking non-Canadian wine, and watch our kids talking each other's ears off, laughing at each other's jokes, and running around in the backyard. Until then, I'll be there for her to lean on when she needs help being strong, and vice versa, I'm sure.