I’m learning more than I ever wanted to know these days.  Lessons about isolation, humility, frustration, real fear, unconditional love, what’s important, patience, gratitude, and so very much more.  But what I have really learned the most about is friendship.  Friendship takes on a whole different meaning when your life is affected by ASD – or any crisis or special-needs issue that affects your child.  For, no matter how much your friends love you, there are some things in life that you cannot possibly understand until you have experienced them.  Please do not misunderstand me.  I have dear, dear friends who have kept me sane throughout the last year of panic, paralyzing fear, occasional depression, sometimes regression, moments of joy, and my inevitable obsession with learning more about my child’s condition.  (It’s even worse when you are a librarian.  lol)  They have tolerated me obsessing, repeating myself, forgetting to ask about their lives, and every other way I have slacked off in the friendship department over the past year.  (You guys know who you are, and I love you.)

But there is a part of my heart now that even they do not have access to – that part that toddles around, smiling and flapping away, still happily oblivious to the difficulties facing him.  That part of me is only accessible to those who know.  That kind of friendship and sisterhood/brotherhood is intimate indeed.

I have such a friend.  Her name is Christy and, though neither of us ever dreamed years ago we would find ourselves on a similar path, she is now the reason I believe in destiny – that certain people are simply meant to find one another.  I believe that we both endured a summer of algebraic torture in college simply because the two little souls who were destined to affect our lives would one day be arriving.

Christy has been on this road for longer than me.  Her journey raising a special-needs child began in 2001, with a CMV affected child.  (Read her story.)  And, though we were friends, I didn’t truly understand her pain and isolation.  It wasn’t until last year that our friendship took on new meaning for us both.  When I began to face that Callum was on the spectrum, I reached out to her.  I sent her a message apologizing to her for all of the missed opportunities  to help her and for all of the times I could have been there more.  But , she already knew more than me and wisely informed me that I couldn’t possibly have known.  She, with open arms, welcomed me to The Club No One Wants to Become a Member Of.

And she gave me a gift.  A gift that I explain each and every time someone asks me about it.  A gift that makes me cry again just writing about it.  She pulled out of her purse a small box.  In it, was a silver ring.  It said, “Love Life”, and on the inside, “Be Brave”.

And then she stunned me.  She told me that she had a matching ring.  For, years earlier, she had seen the ring and knew, simply knew, that one day she would need to give it to someone else.   She didn’t know who, but she had kept it for years – until I emerged as the person who needed it.  I now wear that ring every day.  It has become as valuable to me as my wedding band.  It has become my mantra on hard days and my joy on the good ones.

Over the past few days, my readers have also taught me much about friendship and destiny.  To each and every one of you who have reached out via Twitter, Facebook, Email, and this blog, thank you from the very bottom of my heart.  All of you have also been placed squarely on my path in this new journey.  Your words and support are no accident; they are destiny.  Thank you for the open arms into which you have also welcomed me into The Club.   All of you have reassured me that it’s gonna be okay.

Thank you to my dear friend Christy and all of my new dear friends in the blogosphere.  You are all my heroes.

Love life.  Be brave.

28 responses »

  1. Terri says:

    My ring says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I literally and figuratively lost it several months ago, but I found it again. I like your ring, too.

  2. betsy says:

    i make jewelry…i know what I am going to make tonite!


    great blog!

  3. Christy says:

    You can also get the ring from Kohls.com. 🙂

  4. Lucia Alonso says:

    Welcome to the club, just like you said its not a club anyone wants or should want to be in, but if we are picked to be in it, I’m sure there’s a very powerful reason as to why. I’m not going to say it will be easy because I would be lying, all I can say is that with the support of other warrior moms this journey isn’t as lonely. We understand ech other, no one else dose. Good luck on everything you do with your son, god bless him and your family.

  5. Sue says:

    Another beautiful post and wonderful word to live by for anyone, but especially for the parent of a special needs child! I want to know where your friend found that ring.

  6. Jenna says:

    That is so sweet and so amazing. I love your blog, it was posted on my autism support board the other day. I love the way you write, almost all of your post make me want to cry.

    • CatHerder says:

      Jenna, that comment makes ME want to cry. I know that my 15 minutes won’t last much longer, but it is an aspiring writer’s dream – to reach over 50,000 people in four days. I’m enjoying the ride while it lasts! lol I certainly never imagined so many kind people and their comments.

  7. I am so glad I found your blog! Have you only been writing a short time? Your posts are something that everyone should read – filled with such honesty and beauty. Can’t wait to read more.

    • CatHerder says:

      This blog is a week old. However, I am my school’s webmaster, and I have been running two private online reading groups for over a year now. But this feels so much more natural- the blogging format-and I am excited to continue. So, yes. Writing like this is definitely new. Thanks for the encouragement. I would so love to do this for a living. It’s harder work than I imagined, but so rewarding.

  8. Jennifer says:

    I think I’ve found a new favorite blog! Like alienhippy, I too will be adding you to my blog roll. Thank you for sharing such honest, real and raw emotions.

  9. Jenny Lisle says:


    You and Christy are both such inspirations to all of us on this journey! You each remind me, probably without ever even realizing it, that we are not on this journey alone. Yes, I know we have our spouses and our older children, but as a mother, and as much as we love Sean, Tony, and Michael, they don’t really feel it like we do. Some days the grief of hopes and dreams for our “boys” that they will never realize, is a bit more overwhelming than I care to admit. That moment when you first get the confirmation that you are indeed having a child, it’s as if that child’s entire future plays out in your head….but then, when the suspicions that something is not quite right are confirmed, it really is almost as if a “death” takes place. No, not of a person, but rather of all of those dreams and the life of your child you saw in that original moment.

    I love the saying on the ring! So many days I have been guilty of only following part of it, and that changes from moment to moment some days. There are days when the “Love Life” part is so simple, yet the “Be Brave” is almost unreachable. Then there are days, when for the sake of Noah, “Be Brave” comes simply, but usually at those moments, I don’t “Love Life” so much.

    Thank you ladies for being incredible!

  10. Debbie Shorter says:

    I agree with Christy – no fair making me cry at work. I know Christy values and loves you. Thank you for being her friend and confidant. I am so glad you have each other.

  11. Alienhippy says:

    Beautiful post,
    True, loving, accepting, open and honest friendship is what I have prayed for all my life.
    God is SO good!
    I love those rings.
    Love and hugs.
    Lisa. Xx 🙂

  12. Christy says:

    No fair making me cry at work 🙂 I love you, too ❤
    Love Life, Be Brave 🙂

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