Blue Eyes and I are fortunate in that we are surrounded by a loving community of friends. Many of us lived in an actual spiritual community together and left it at around the same time, settling in a nearby town and finding our way in the “real world.” As you can imagine, there is a deep bond between us all. We get together every week to meditate, and there are numerous times when we gather for other, more social, occasions.

Naturally, when Joseph joined our lives we dreamed he’d be a part of this community. He’d have so many aunts and uncles, so many people who would love him, care about him, and be in relationship with him.

Then came autism.

At the end of our meditation last week, a longtime friend named Carla shared a story with the group. She’d been sitting in a local cafe when all of a sudden a sweet, blond-haired boy jumped into her lap, smiling up at her. Then his sister walked up and very politely introduced her to her friend, telling her that Carla was her “second godmother.” Carla shared about what a precious moment that was, as these are kids from another couple in our group, and she so appreciates having this close, loving relationship with the kids.

Everyone, of course, was delighted with the story, and there was laughter and love around it.

But I could not laugh. I felt the punch in the gut that I get every now and then, the surprise OOOMPH that lands out of nowhere, causing me to double up in pain as the tears spring to my eyes.

I made my way quietly to the door, sat outside and cried.

crowdAutistic kids are often afraid of people. Mine is. A frequent public humiliation is being somewhere, anywhere, with Joseph, when we encounter other people. “HELP, MOM!” Joseph will call out loudly. “It’s people! I’M SCARED OF PEOPLE!”

It’s hard. It’s just bloody hard.

Which brings us to aparigraha. A Sanskrit word, aparigraha means non-envy. It is about avoiding greed-based desire that is rooted in jealousy: the desire to be what someone else is, to be where they are in life, or to have what they have. Aparigraha is about looking at someone else and not saying, “I want that.”

But I do want it. I want my son to be an integral, beloved part of my community. I want it for me and I want it for him.

I don’t have it. And I’m sad about that.

Life goes on, and so will I. But in the meantime here I sit, grieving, letting go of yet another dream.