I have an older brother who suffers from several mental illnesses. He was born back in 1950 - when nobody even knew what autism was, much less how to diagnose it or treat it. He also had a mixed bag of other issues, but long after he reached adulthood, we learned that his primary diagnosis was autism.
As a young girl, I remember praying and praying ardently every single night to wake up and find my brother to be miraculously made ‘normal’. Each morning, I woke to find him the same, and so I continued praying for many years.
It wasn’t until I was well into my own adulthood that I realized that he is exactly as he was intended to be. And that he was in fact a true gift to my family. Through learning about his mental illness and understanding his many challenges, I have realized that he is truly the glue that holds my family together, especially now that my parents are gone. My siblings and I take turns taking care of him, and he often surprises us at how well he can take care of himself. (with the assistance of many dedicated workers in our county.) It’s also amazing to know someone who gains so much pleasure in the simplest of life’s gifts. Knowing him and loving him has changed my life in ways I will never fully comprehend.. but I am so glad that as an adult I have learned to accept him the way he is, and to understand why some prayers don’t need to be answered.
PS - thanks to all who contributed to the Richmond NAMIWalks on my brother’s behalf!!!