December 02, 2006

My Jeffrey by Pamela Mytroen

I wrote this piece as a reminder that the seeds of hope, though tiny, are tenacious. They've rooted in my soul, and watered by tears, are promises that someday my son will become whole.

My Jeffrey will make me proud some day. Not like my neighbor's children who are the first ones chosen for the soccer game at recess, or like the ones across town that always land the lead role in the school drama, nor like the children who bow at the sound of applause and carry another trophy home for their collection. No. My Jeffrey is autistic. He dances to a foreign song, on a quiet, dim stage far from Hollywood. But his moves amaze me.

You see, my Jeffrey learned to read. He learned to sound out the letters in the word, "Burger King", his favorite place, but not until he learned to muffle the monsters roaring in his ears, to tie them up and throw them in the corner. My Jeffrey learned to multiply and divide, to keep his sixes and nines straight, but not until he determined to defeat the demons growling in his mind. My Jeffrey learned to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for his little sister, to put the peanut butter on first, though he sill doesn't understand why she smiled when he left it on the table for her.

But the climax of his dance, his most difficult move that he held in painful grace, was the day he ran through the porch door, grabbed my arm and held me in his deep blue-eyed grip. "I'm sorry Mom." Three words. But he said it clearly, with quivering lips and tears running down his red cheeks. I heard him rip the chains away from his shackled soul. I felt them rattle and shake in his arms, angry and anxious to strangle his spirit again. But for a few seconds the light that shone from his eyes held me captive. First love. Tender love, set free from his heart, surprised him, and beckoned my breath in a fragile moment. Then the chains, like snakes, hissed their return, and flicked the light from his face. He turned away and ran back to school.

My Jeffrey learned to hug me and say, "I love you Mom," every night at bedtime. It's become a part of his mindless routine that he does after he brushes his teeth and puts on his pajamas.

But someday. Someday. My Jeffrey will grin, look deep into my eyes, and he'll say, "I love you Mom". And he'll mean it. I'll join him in a new dance and he'll understand my tears. The light will resurrect in his eyes. After all, if he muffled monsters, slayed demons, and ripped apart chains, he's nearly there.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, and thank God for the hope He has given you for your special son. Most of us so often underestimate the power of God, or just forget that He can reach inside and touch alive the spirit of anyone, no matter what binds them, and set them free.

    blessing & prayers,

  2. Thanks Elsie. What would I do without God?

  3. Pam, this is beautiful. It's vividly-written, and I love the images of the dance and the chain-snakes, but the real power is the solid hope of your declaration. Jesus came to set the captives free, break the chains and pull the monsters' teeth. Someday, your Jeffrey will invite you into that dance, and all heaven will rejoice with you. Until then, grace and strength to your family for each step on the way.

  4. So very moving, Pam. Thanks for giving us this glimpse into your world. It reminds me of Autism Poem: the Grid by Barbara Crooker.

  5. Although I'd hasten to add, your piece is more hopeful!

  6. Dear Pam,

    Thanks for sharing so vividly. Your determination to hold on to the Author and finisher of our faith is inspiring. May you and Jeffrey be blessd in the days to come.

  7. Very touching, Pam. A neat glimpse into what autism is like for him, with all of your images. Hope for all other mothers out there with autistic children.


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