Blessings In Disguise

By Joseph J. Mazzella • December 27, 2012

The rain poured down on the car stopped by the side of the road. I had made my wife pull over a few minutes earlier when her tears had made it impossible for her to drive. My own heart ached with pain and my eyes were wet with tears too. It was the worst moment of our lives. I held her in my arms for a long time while the Heavens seemed to cry with us.

We had just come from a specialist office in a big hospital. We had taken our firstborn son there to be tested. He was nearing 3 years old and hadn't started to talk yet. He also had displayed behaviors that weren't normal. After a long wait and longer tests the Doctor told us that there was definitely something wrong although he couldn't say what it was. He recommended more tests. We drove away in silence. I could see the hurt in my wife's eyes as she tried to hold back the coming tears. All she had wanted was a "normal" little boy. Finally as the rain began to fall outside the car our tears began to fall inside it.

We sat there for the longest time crying and feeling powerless and unsure of what to do next. After a while the clouds parted and the sun began to shine again. We looked back at our son in his car seat and he smiled happily at us. We knew then that we had to go on no matter what the road ahead of us may hold.

Our boy was later diagnosed with Autism and mental retardation. He was five years old before he finally began to speak in sentences. Although he learned to talk and read we still knew that he would have to be looked after for the rest of his life. As the years went on, though, I realized that my boy was not only "special" mentally, but also "special" spiritually. Even with all the limitations and frustrations his handicap gave him, he still managed to give his kindness, love, and enthusiasm to everyone around him. He remembered people he met and called them by name. He gave out hugs as easily as the rest of us gave out "hi's". He went through his days with a ready smile and a simple joy that were contagious. He gave up the role of "eldest child" to his younger "normal" sister, but still helped to look after his younger brother who had been born with an even more severe form of Autism. He became more than just my son. He became my friend. He became my helper. He became my teacher in how to live and in how to give. He became my inspiration on how to love and be happy in that love. He and his brother both became beautiful blessings in disguise.

As I look back on the years my boys and I have spent together and look forward to the times that lie ahead of us, I once again thank God for giving them to me. My first born son and his younger brother have both done what everyone of us longs to do: they have made this world a better and more beautiful place just by being in it. They have touched countless hearts with their love, laughter, and joy and they will undoubtedly touch countless more.

Many people look upon the mentally handicapped as something less than human. I now see them as something more. They have inside of them a deeper love, joy, and connection to God than the rest of us. And while we take care of them we should also take the time to learn from them as well. They truly are all blessings in disguise and while they sometimes bring us tears of sadness, they more often bring us tears of joy.

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