YEEEE! The sound jarred me out of my dreams on a cold, Winter’s night. I sat up, threw aside my blankets, and fumbled for my glasses in the dark. I opened my bedroom door and saw a light coming from the bathroom. I knew then that it was my youngest son, Casey.
Casey has had a severe form of Autism all of his life. He speaks only a few words and is bound by his daily routines. Small changes that we handle easily feel like the end of the world to him. Sometimes when he’s upset he will cry uncontrollably, scratch his face, or hit himself.
This time, however, I knew from the noise he was making that he was happy. He was engaging in his favorite Winter pastime, sitting on the closed toilet seat while warming his feet on the heating vent next to it. I walked into the bathroom and said, “It’s late son. Time to go back to bed.” Then I leaned over, kissed his forehead, and looked into his eyes.
At that moment something happened that touched me to my soul. Suddenly, there was no Casey and no me. There was only light. I felt like I was floating on a lake of love and joy surrounded completely by a Divine presence. It was a moment of perfect peace. Then I blinked and when I opened my eyes again there was only my son smiling up at me. I think that for a moment God had allowed me to see a glimpse of my son’s true soul, unlimited by his handicapped mind. I knew that it was one far brighter, stronger, and more loving than my own. I felt so blessed being able to see it. I thanked God again for my son while I watched him walk back to his bedroom.
For all of human history the mentally handicapped have been looked down upon in our societies. They have been ostracized, tormented, neglected and ignored. Yet the truth is they are the best souls among us. They are here on a special mission from Heaven to teach us about love, patience, compassion, and selflessness. They are here to help our own souls to grow in beauty and light. They are a blessed gift from God and we should accept them all, welcome them into our hearts, and embrace the lessons they teach. May we always do so.
Joseph J. Mazzella