Monday, January 16, 2012

Autism and death..

There is something most people dont even think about in the same sentence.. Autism and death.. My brother is autistic.. He lives in a house with 2 other autistic males.. It is a sort of assisted living type place and my parents usually get my brother for a weekend every month for a home visit.. These were all great until my mother started having issues with her health.. My brother was VERY aware of the changes and would act out while he was at my parents house.. It got so bad the month before my mother died that my sister and I had to have a "talk" with him.. I remember telling him that this may be the last time he saw Mama alive and that he needed to be sweet.. Turns out, I was right.. I am so glad we had that talk with him because we didnt want Mama's last day with my brother to be awful.. He ended up straitening up for the rest of his visit, thank God..

I couldnt help but feel MORE guilt while Mama was dying because our brother wasnt there.. But, I also knew that he would probably NOT cooperate with the whole situation..and THAT would have been awful for everyone.. But, in my heart, I felt terrible for him.. This was his mother.. Boys have that special bond with their mothers.. Even autistic boys.. lol  Apparently he cared because he was acting out.. After Mama died, Daddy called his house where he lived and informed the people that worked there about Mama's death.. They opted to not tell my brother and to wait until Daddy got him on Friday for him to tell him.. The funeral was the next day.. We were all unsure of how he would react to the news..

Daddy decided to do everything that he normally does when he picks him up which was getting him McDonald's hamburgers and fries and letting him eat them when he first got home.. He asked my sister and I if we could be there for when he told him, so we could all be together.. It was a great idea and so we were all there, including Steve.. Daddy brought Jimbo in and we hugged him.. He knew something was up but he went and ate his hamburgers and fries.. Daddy called him upstairs when he was finished.. Once he was upstairs, Daddy told him that Mama had died and that she was living with Jesus.. He told him the next day they were going to get up and go to church and go to Mama's funeral and that we were all going to be ok.. Jimbo's eyes teared up and he said "ok" and then ran downstairs.. I followed him and he started gagging.. It was such an emotional moment.. My autistic brother even reacted to Mama's death.. We were all crying.. It was extremely powerful.. So, I know for a fact, that even if he cannot verbalize that he is upset, he DOES feel it and if it is something as horrific as a parent dying he WILL react in some way..

Daddy said that later that night, Jimbo went to bed like he normally does, but Mama wasnt there for him to give her a kiss to.. Daddy said on the way up the stairs that Jimbo paused and looked for her, then went upstairs.. Thats kind of like how I would think " I need to call Mama" after she died.. It was a part of my life that I almost did daily.. It took a long time for me to get to where I didnt automatically think about that.. I guess thats why I feel so empty at times.. Death is FINAL.. But, it cant take away memories..


sandra johbson said...

I understand how you. feel! Writing is s good way to deal, so keep on writing dear friend!!

Leigh of Tales from Bloggeritaville said...

What a story to share Michelle. I hope Jimbo is continuing to do ok, as for all of you. I can only imagine what it might be like and its not a good thought. I knew your momma for a short time, and I know what a special woman she was. It is evident in her children. Her legacy continues. Continued prayers....and love.

Anonymous said...

Had a much-needed come-apart, reading this, as I recalled the moments after we shared with her son, my sister's passing. Though he is yet undiagnosed, we suspect that he has Asperger's Syndrome or one of the many Autism "Spectrum" Disorders.
Primitive human reaction...,"emotion..." is obviously not lost on people who experience Autism and its related "disorders." Rather, I believe, they do not waste their responses on the mundane, the "everyday" matters. Their emotional expression is reserved, lending to its precious value.
Some people communicate by shedding tears, some by silence. Indeed, your brother clearly loved your mother and suffered grief. I often find that I so adore my precious nephew FOR his "autistic flare," rather than in spite of it. ;)
We are who we are...