This month has made me reflect on what I've let go in my life. My grandmother died a few weeks ago, at the age of 99. As is often the case when you lose someone, I am feeling guilty. I know I didn't call her or write her or send her presents or visit her as much as I should have during her last years. I keep asking myself how hard it would have been to be a better granddaughter. I know I'm doing the same with some other people that are dear to me---a wonderful friend I met on ebay, my ex-boyfriend's mother who is much like a mother to me, in fact, many friends who I don't do as much for as I should. My friends and family have always been very important to me. I used to be the type who sent out all kinds of Christmas presents, called people on their birthdays, picked up the phone a lot just to check in. And now I'm not. I'm pretty self-centered. If something doesn't work for me, I let it go.
And I tell myself---I've had to do that. Janey takes every ounce of my patience, my creativity, my capacity to be caring. Not every day, but often. Once she is at school, or out with Tony, I collapse. I do nothing, much of the time. Once I get a little energy, there's a huge list of essentials waiting for me---laundry, dishes, bills. And then I need to work, to make the little bit of money that makes the difference between total bare bones and getting take-out once a week. And of course, and they should have come first, I need to give my attention to William and Freddy, and to Tony. There just isn't much left. Any single phone call or present or card might not seem like much, but I've come to feel too often that it's too much. I have retreated into myself.
I'm very lucky I have friends who have stood by me for this. I need them, so much. Other friends haven't really understood, and I feel awful about that. I'm thankful for Facebook, which is not a substitute for real human contact, but which does allow me to get a quick update on how a lot of people are doing, and perhaps just even "like" something they have said. If anyone is reading this and would like to be my friend on Facebook, go ahead and send a friend request (Suzanne Billheimer Amara), because that is the best way to keep up with me, out of necessity.
I hope someday I'll come out of this fog a little. I want to be the friend I once was able to be. I can make excuses, but for some things, there aren't any excuses. My grandmother is gone. She's not coming back. Maybe some people are stronger with this---they have energy left over in spades to keep being the person they were before autism snuck into their life. I don't. And I wish I did.