I have proclaimed repeatedly how painful was to lose my mother at such a young age. I was only 11 years of age. She was the light of my life and she cared me for me in such a loving way that all her love planted in me was the seed to emotionally succeed in life. Life with my mother was a very happy time for me, she made me feel so special. However, everything changed one fateful day when I was in school, my mother collapsed while watering the plants in our garden. She suffered from a brain hemorrhage, which rendered her unconscious at home. A neighbor saw her collapsed and rushed her to hospital.
I was told what had happened when I returned home from school. I burst into tears because I had a terrible foreboding that my mother would not recover and she would never return home again. I was taken care of by one of my mother's closest friends. However, the light in life had gone out. My worst fears came true when my mother died shortly afterwards. It was a terrible time, and my entire world crumbled. I vividly remember screaming, howling inconsolable and jumping up and down. It felt like a very sharp sword penetrated my heart, causing me the most painful feeling in the whole world, to the extent that I felt breathless. I cried so much that at some point I vomited - from exhaustion- I guess.
Words can not describe that painful, hard moment. The very moment my life changed forever. And I am in tears as I type, recollecting that experience. But...
For a moment, think of this: What does a beautiful diamond, a beautiful, colorful flower, a shinning piece of marble and a very symmetrical statue have in common? They have gone through a very harsh process in order to achieve the enchanting beauty they posses and project. In order to now sustain that well-conditioned state of being, they had to go to a very 'painful' procedure - first. This is the best metaphor example I have constructed to be able to translate what adversity could - in a positive way - represent in many people's lives.
Paradoxically, and this is something I learnt while in therapy, as painful and tragically compelling as it was, my mother's death left me with a huge emotional legacy as a person. I am - in a very startling way - defined by that horrible episode in my life. It sounds ironic, I know, but it is true. Experiencing such tragic event at a very young age, equipped me with a bundle of resilience that is stored in my emotional 'vault', and which I always reach to every time I need it.
Adversity is like the protein that feeds and fortifies our resilience 'muscle'. And makes us stronger to face and fight adversity again and again whenever it comes back.
My own adversity brings me to a story I read in the newspaper a few days ago, and I would like to use this writing to celebrate parenthood in general, but in a very particular way to celebrate all those parents who are parenting children with 'special' conditions and/or needs. Parents who has to face an everyday double challenge of facing the reality of having that beautiful person under their protection who needs extra care, tenderness and love.
I was on the bus on my way into town, reading this moving, sad, but lovely story. I remember the reading engaged me in such a powerful way that I was crying, my tears wouldn't stop and they kept streaming down my face as I was reading.
I don't know them on a very personal level. I know him - Keith- from being in the media, and I know her- Lisa- because she goes to where I work. I approached and told her about my idea of writing a piece based on their newspaper article and she loved it.
You don't need to know them that well to clearly realize that they have their golden hearts in the right place. They have this 'aura' that conveys the message 'everything is gonna be OK'. An 'aura' that we are not aware of, but that we just magically develop when we have been winner victims of the adversities of life. You meet them and you can see that they have become the great people and human beings they are, because adversity - one unexpected day - decided to knock on their door and faced them with the reality that their beautiful daughter was sufferer of autistic spectrum disorder.
Since then, they have become true ambassadors for all those families that are going through the same, or similar experience. The work they have done to raise awareness to this issue is outstanding, and their contribution to this cause is invaluable. Their story have touched many people's lives!
This is the story of Lisa and Keith Duffy on raising an autistic daughter.
For more information on World Autism Day visit http://www.autismspeaks.org or go to Keith's own website
It would be wonderful to make a contribution of any kind!