It can happen to any person.
It can happen to you, me, him, her, them, they, or us.
Unfortunately, the ones that most make the news are these: the ones who are judged by those self-esteemed as masters at a subject without a mastery.
a·ware·nessThere are upsides and downsides to awareness. While awareness breaks down walls and brings to the forefront an issue that demand attention, the downside is the notoriety of the ups and downs of parenting a child on the spectrum. With notoriety comes an opening for judgment by those who deem themselves "aware enough" because they have read the hundreds of articles passed around each and every day.
But awareness is such a finicky word.
According to Dictionary.com the definition for awareness is:
a·ware·ness [uh-wair-nis] noun the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousnessThe connotation is closer to "having some knowledge of a particular subject without mastery." Knowledge of and mastery are not similar names for the same state. Unfortunately, far too many people feel they have the right to pass or express judgment on topics for which they have knowledge of but lack mastery. The utmost of these subjects is parenting.
I parent a child on the spectrum. While I consider myself as having a great deal of knowledge about parenting due both to parenting and experience and a great deal of knowledge about parenting a child on the spectrum, through research and experience, I will attest at no point to be a master of either topic. Because, in these two domains, there are no such things as masters; there are those with extensive knowledge, those who understand what research says, those who have experience, those who have awareness, and those who have no idea, but in parenting and in parenting a child on the spectrum, no two experiences are ever the same, no two situations immediately identical, and no one size fits all solution to any parenting problem, nor any symptom exhibited by a child on the spectrum.
To any who claims rights to publicly judge, humiliate, or demean another human being, especially in the face of tragedy, by assuming one is master of a domain that he or she is only levelly aware of is ignorance at its finest, incivility at its greatest, and unkind at its broadest.
I know what it is to love my child. I know what it is to spend the earliest waking hours and latest night hours worrying about my son. I am not so foolish to ever forget that Life happens. The world is a peculiar place; nothing living is made to last forever, for that would destroy this glorious earth and rob it of all it has to offer. While I despair to think on it, anyone that I love could die in the next five minutes from anything, ranging from illness to accident to self-infliction. We can live as we may, take every possible precaution there is, and worry ourselves into an early grave about the "could be's, should be's, may be's, and would be's," but in the end for us most, what does us in is the thing we can do the least about.
To judge another for living in a human world amongst the human race, doing all that is humanly possible when presented with the superhuman task of shielding those we love from the very life we live is to show that we are not nearly so wise enough to comprehend that not one of us is invisible. Not a President, King, or Queen; not a Policeman, a Fireman, or a Doctor; not a monk, a saint, or a sinner; not the least of all friend, loved one, child. At one point, or another, mortality shall come. In whatever form at whatever time, none of us who breathes and lives are immune. Some of us may have better tools to prolong the inevitable. Others of us are not so lucky. Their lot and end are no less tragic and bring no less pain. In the time of loss and in the face of such tragedy, the honest, kind, humane, and civil thing to do is to reach across the self and insert strength in the place of fear, to withhold judgment where no right to give is tendered, and to remember, that someday soon, your own day will come. Pray that at that time, whatever the circumstances, that in your absence on this earth, the world may help your grieving loved ones find their peace because however it is that you die was a path that you have made your best to travel, even if the road was hardly prime.
My heart goes out to those who are facing tragedy, now, tomorrow, and ever. May peace swiftly find you and replace your sadness with fond memories and kind-hearted neighbors.