There's a lot else to feel thankful for, of course. There's my husband and sons, three amazing, brilliant, kind and interesting people. There is Janey herself, my beautiful, fascinating daughter. There's my extended family. There's my friends, including all of you. There's the fact that we have enough to eat, and a roof over our heads, and don't go to bed at night in fear. That puts us far up on the things to be thankful for scale compared to so many in the world. There's the many other things that make life worthwhile, for me anyway---books, cats, Scrabble, music, coffee---all of life's little pleasures that really aren't that little in terms of the pleasure they bring. And there's just the fact we are all here, seeing another Thanksgiving Day.
It wasn't an easy day, really. The thing about autism is that it never, ever takes a holiday or vacation. It is with Janey always. I wish so much she could have a day off from it now and then (and that we could, too) The 2015 version of Janey has a hair-trigger. She gets instantly, overwhelmingly upset over things she doesn't like, and there's a long list of things she doesn't like. The anger, though, doesn't last a long time. Within five or so minutes, she is usually not screaming. But the screams are a daily, or pretty much really an hourly, occurrence. They make it very hard to relax, ever. We had our big meal upstairs with my brother-in-law. The food was good, the conversation was good, but Janey was unhappy. She screamed and flung clothes around and was generally extremely unhappy. We were determined to eat anyway, together, something that I must admit doesn't get done a lot with our family. But as soon as we finished, before dessert, I took her downstairs. There is only so much that we can make her endure, and, honestly, endure ourselves.
Autism is our reality. It's a huge, huge, huge part of our lives. And I am not thankful for that. As I think I've said before, I am hugely thankful for PEOPLE with autism, such as Janey. But I am not thankful for Janey's autism. I very much understand it when other people ARE thankful for their autism, or their children's autism. But Janey's particular breed of autism takes away far, far, far more from her life than it gives her. She is so unhappy so often. She is hurting, and not just mentally---she bites her arm constantly, and not lightly. She is unable to participate in so much of life. It would be cruel for me to say I'm thankful for what autism has brought into our lives---the devoted teachers, the wonderful friends, the fascinating glimpses into Janey's unusual mind. I AM thankful for all those things, but it's like saying "It's okay that Janey has to suffer so much, because it has brought us some very good things"
So I will say to all of you reading this---you are a remarkable bunch of people. I'm glad I know you. But I wish we could have met under different circumstances.